MetroFocus: September 30, 2021

Patricia Marroquin Norby is the first ever Associate Curator of Native American Art and the first Native American to serve as a curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She joins us to discuss her background, groundbreaking career, and the changes she is helping to bring to the Met, including land and water acknowledgment plaques in and outside of the museum.

Have you ever asked yourself “How did I end up here?” “What experiences and circumstances have led to where I am right now?” Bob McKinnon believes these are the most important questions we can ask ourselves and the mere act of reflection will lead to a better society for us all. Bob is host of the Attribution With Bob McKinnon podcast which is distributed by PBS Chasing The Dream, director of the non-profit Moving Up Media Lab and author of the book “Three Little Engines” which is a modern retelling of the beloved childhood classic “The Little Engine That Could.” Tonight he joins us as part of our Chasing The Dream initiative to explore the concepts of social mobility and inequality in a manner with which young children can identify.

CtD-Logo2


Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G.

PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

THE JPB FOUNDATION.

12340E9

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

PATRICIA MADE HISTORY TWICE WHEN SHE WAS HIRED AS THE ASSOCIATE CURATOR OF NATIVE AMERICAN ART AT THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART LAST YEAR.

SHE'S THE FIRST PERSON TO HOLD THIS POSITION AND THE FIRST NATIVE AMERICAN TO HOLD ANY CURATOR POSITION AT THE MUSEUM.

THROUGH HER ROLE, SHE'S BEEN WORKING TO REIMAGINE THE WAYS IN WHICH NATIVE AMERICAN ART IS DISPLAYED AND DISCUSSED AT THE MUSEUM.

THE MET ITSELF HAS ALSO BEEN TAKING STEPS RECENTLY TO RE-EXAMINE ITS OWN RELATIONSHIP TO NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITIES, AS DEMONSTRATED BY A PLAQUE INSTALLED OUTSIDE THE MUSEUM BACK IN MAY, ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THE LAND ON WHICH THE MUSEUM SITS ORIGINALLY BELONGED TO THE NATIVE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

SO JOINING ME NOW TO DISCUSS HER GROUND BREAKING CAREER, AND THE CHANGES SHE'S BRINGING TO THE MET IS PATRICIA NORBY, THE INAUGURAL ASSOCIATE CURATOR OF NATIVE AMERICAN ART AT THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.

WELCOME TO THE SHOW AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

IT'S A PLEASURE TO BE HERE TODAY.

I WOULD LIKE TO MENTION QUICKLY THAT I'M JOINING YOU IN THE RESTAURANT HERE IN MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, THE ORIGINAL HOMELAND OF THE DAKOTA PEOPLE.

AND I'M A GUEST HERE IN THIS REGION.

OKAY.

WELL, FIRST, I WANT TO START OFF WITH JUST A LITTLE BIT OF YOUR STORY.

YOU GREW UP IN CHICAGO, AND HAVE REFERRED TO YOURSELF AS AN URBAN INDIAN.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

ACTUALLY, I REFERRED TO MY PARENTS AS AN URBAN INDIAN AND MYSELF AS A SUBURBAN INDIAN.

WE MOVED OUTSIDE OF THE CITY WHEN I WAS 5 YEARS OLD.

WE MAINTAINED CONNECTION OBVIOUSLY WITH MY FAMILY, WHO CONTINUED TO LIVE IN THE INNER CITY OF CHICAGO.

BUT BASICALLY WHAT THAT MEANS IS THAT I GREW UP IN THE CITY, I'M A CITY GIRL.

AND MY PARENTS ALSO GREW UP IN CHICAGO.

AND SO I WAS SURROUNDED BY ART, AND MUSEUMS AND SOME OF MY FAVORITE PLACES TO VIZ IT WAR THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, AND THEN ALSO THE FIELD MUSEUM WHERE I SERVED ON THEIR BOARD OF TRUSTEES.

OKAY.

WHAT LED YOU TO WANTING TO BECOME AN ART CURATOR?

I STARTED IN THIS FIELD AS A PRACTICING ARTIST.

I HAVE A BACK GROUND IN PHOTOGRAPHY AND PRINT MAKING.

MY TRAINING HAS GROUNDED MY UNDERSTANDING OF ART MAKING PROCESSES, AND ALSO MY APPRECIATION FROM MATERIALS AND CONTENT, FOLLOWING MY TIME AS A FINE ARTIST.

I THEN MOVED INTO MUSEUM LEADERSHIP AND ADMINISTRATION.

SO NOW I'M THRILLED TO BE RETURNING TO MY FINE ARTS ROOTS AND A CURATOR OF NATIVE AMERICAN ART AT THE MET.

WELL, YOU'RE NOT ONLY THE FIRST CURATOR OF NATIVE AMERICAN ART FOR THE MET, YOU'RE THE FIRST NATIVE AMERICAN INDIVIDUAL TO BE A CURATOR.

SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?

WELL, IT MEANS A LOT TO ME.

AND IT NOT ONLY MEANS A LOT TO ME PERSONALLY, BUT ALSO IN TERMS OF REPRESENTING MY COMMUNITY, BUT ALSO INDIGENOUS PEOPLE MORE BROADLY.

AND IT'S IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE THIS HISTORICAL MOMENT.

MUSEUMS ACROSS THE WORLD ARE AT A PIVOTAL MOMENT.

THE MET IS STRONGLY COMMITTED TO NATIVE AMERICAN AND INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVES IN OUR PROGRAMS.

SO I'M HONORED TO FACILITATE THIS PROCESS AND I'M THANKFUL FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY TO WORK WITH DIVERSE, SOVEREIGN NATIVE NATIONS, AND HIGHLIGHTING THEIR ART AND CREATIVE EXPRESSION.

WELL, YOU HAVE BOTH A Ph.D.

AND MFA.

SO HOW DO YOU THINK THOSE WITH INFORM YOUR ROLE AS A CURATOR AND SPECIFICALLY FOR NATIVE AMERICAN ART?

GOING BACK TO MY FINE ARTS TRAINING, I'M ALSO TRAINED AS AN ART HISTORIAN.

AND SO THAT TYPE OF INVESTIGATIVE CURIOSITY, THAT'S JUST PART OF MY NATURE ALL ALONG.

I THINK THAT'S PART OF WHAT DRIVES CURATORS.

WE'RE INTERESTED IN THE ART THAT WE WORK WITH AND THE COMMUNITIES WE WORK WITH.

SO THAT'S A MOTIVATING FACTOR IN MUCH OF WHAT WE DO.

WELL, YOU'VE BEEN IN YOUR ROLE AS ASSOCIATE CURATOR OF NATIVE AMERICAN ART FOR ALMOST A YEAR NOW.

10 WHAT TYPE OF CHANGES HAVE YOU MADE SO FAR IN EITHER THE TYPE OF ART THAT'S ON DISPLAY OR THE WAYS IN WHICH IT'S ORGANIZED?

WELL, WE HAVE A NUMBER OF REALLY EXCITING CHANGES ALREADY HAPPENING AT THE MUSEUM.

SOME OF THEM ARE UP FRONT, WHERE AUDIENCES CAN ENGAGE WHAT THE CHANGE IS, BUT OTHERS ARE BEHIND THE SCENE, SO WE HAVE MADE A NUMBER OF SHIFTS IN OUR EXHIBITION BY COLLECTION AND CARE BEHIND THE SCENES.

AND ALSO OUR PROGRAMMING.

AND MUCH OF THE CHANGES THAT WE HAVE MADE ARE IN PURSUIT OF FOREGROUNDING INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVES AND VOICES.

BUT I NEED TO MAKE IT CLEAR, IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT NONE OF THESE CHANGES COULD HAPPEN WITHOUT THE COLLABORATION OF INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES, WHOSE ITEMS THAT I HELP CARE FOR.

AND ALSO THE GENEROSITY OF CHARLES AND VALERIE DIKER, AS WELL AS OTHER DONORS FOR THEIR ONGOING SUPPORT OF ART OF NATIVE AMERICA AND THAT PERMANENT INSTALLATION.

BUT ONE OF MY HIGHEST PRIORITIES IS TO CONTINUE PARTNERING WITH NATIVE NATIONS, AMPLIFYING INDIGENOUS VOICES AT THE MET.

OF COURSE.

FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT MIGHT JUST BE JOINING US, I'M SPEAKING WITH PATRICIA NORBY, THE INAUGURAL ASSOCIATE CURATOR OF NATIVE AMERICAN ART AT THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.

SO MOVING ON IN OUR DISCUSSION, AS A CURATOR OF NATIVE AMERICAN ART, HOW DO YOU BALANCE SHOWING THE ART AND THE ARTIFACTS IN THE MUSEUM'S COLLECTION WITH THE OBLIGATION TO ENSURE THAT NONE OF THE WORK WAS OBTAINED IMPROPERLY?

WELL, MANY MUSEUMS HAVE THE COMPLEX HISTORIES WITH INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES, AS WELL AS OTHER COMMUNITIES.

AND SO THEIR PARTICULAR PROTOCOL AND RULES THAT WE DO HAVE TO ABIDE BY.

THERE ARE FEDERAL LAUS SPECIFICALLY REGARDING NATIVE AMERICAN AND INDIGENOUS ART.

SO WE HAVE TO FOLLOW THOSE LAUS, AND WE DO.

WE ARE IN THE PROCESS OF WORKING WITH A NUMBER OF INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES REGARDING THEIR COLLECTION AND LEARNING THE APPROPRIATE WAY TO PLACE ON VIEW ITEMS FROM THEIR COMMUNITY.

BUT ALSO, YOU KNOW, IT'S A LEARNING PROCESS, AND IT'S ALSO QUITE HUMBLING, BECAUSE AS AN ACADEMIC AND SCHOOL LARS, WE'RE OFTEN PRIF LIBLGED WITH PART -- PRIVILEGED WITH THESE ARTIFACTS.

BUT SOMETIMES IT'S NOT APPROPRIATE FOR US, AND THERE ARE MATERIALS IN OUR COLLECTIONS THAT ARE NOT APPROPRIATE TO PLACE ON VIEW.

I THINK THAT'S SOMETHING THAT MUSEUMS HAVE STRUGGLED WITH.

BUT IT'S ALSO A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY FOR EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS TO GROW AND TO LEARN AND TO LISTEN TO AND RECOGNIZE INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVES REGARDING THESE ITEMS, WHICH ARE FROM THEIR COMMUNITY.

OF COURSE, YOU KNOW, IN THE INTRO, I MENTIONED THE PLAQUE THAT HAD BEEN INSTALLED OUTSIDE OF THE MUSEUM BACK IN MAY.

AND I WAS WONDERING IF YOU COULD TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE BRONZE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT PLAQUE.

AND FOR PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT BE FAMILIAR WITH THE CONCEPT, WHAT IS A LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

THE BRONZE PLAQUE WAS INSTALLED IN MAY OF THIS YEAR AND LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS HELP TO RECOGNIZE THE ORIGINAL COMMUNITIES AND THE PEOPLE THAT THE SPECIFIC REGION WHERE THE MUSEUM NOW OCCUPIES.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ARE INTEGRAL TO BUILDING AND MAINTAINING RESPECTFUL RELATIONSHIPS WITH NATIVE PEOPLES.

THEY ALSO HELP TO THEN P DEMONSTRATE TO COLLABORATE WITH THE ORIGINAL COMMUNITIES AND ALSO, CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS, INCLUDING THE MET VSHGS A PARTICULAR RESPONSIBILITY TO SHARE TRUTHS ABOUT THEIR PAST, AND TO RECKON WITH THEIR ONGOING IMPACT ON LOCAL LANDS, WATERS AND ORIGINAL COMMUNITY.

BUT I NEED TO MAKE IT CLEAR, IT'S NOT ENOUGH TO SIMPLY INSTALL A PLAQUE ON A BUILDING OR WALL.

THESE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS MUST BE FOLLOWED UP WITH ACTION, WHICH IS WHAT YOU'RE CURRENTLY WITNESSING WITH ALL THE CHANGES HAPPENING AT THE MET.

WELL, AGAIN, TO BETTER UNDERSTAND, WAS THE PROCESS TO GET THIS PLAQUE INSTALLED SOMETHING THAT -- ISSOME SOMETHING THAT CAME TOGETHER RATHER QUICKLY?

IN THE MUSEUM, IT HAPPENS QUITE OFTEN.

THERE'S AN IDEA, AND THEN THAT IDEA IS PLANNED OUT OVER TIME, WORKING COLLABORATIVELY WITH YOUR TEAM.

AND THEN SUDDENLY IT ALL HAPPENS QUITE RAPIDLY.

AND SO I WOULD SAY BOTH TO YOUR ANSWER.

AND IT WAS AN IDEA THAT WAS INITIATED PRIOR TO MY ARRIVAL.

ONCE I ARRIVED, THE PROCESS WAS SPED UP.

WELL, ONE LAST QUESTION ABOUT THE PLAQUE, SINCE IT WAS AN ISSUE BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL.

BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HAVING THAT LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT PLAQUE OUTSIDE OF ONE OF THE MOST WELL-KNOWN AND RESPECTED MUSEUM INSTITUTIONS IN THE WORLD?

WELL, I THINK IT REALLY DEMONSTRATES THE COMMITMENT THE MUSEUM HAS MADE TO COLLABORATING WITH THE ORIGINAL COMMUNITIES, WHOSE CULTURAL AND ESTHETIC ITEMS WE CARE FOR.

AND IT'S ALSO A WAY OF -- FOR SETTLERS AND NONINDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES TO OWN THEIR RESPONSIBILITY WITHIN THE COLONIZATION PROCESS.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHANGES YOU HOPE TO BRING TO THE NATIVE AMERICAN ART EXHIBITS AT THE MET OR JUST TO THE MET IN GENERAL?

WE WILL BE CONTINUING WITH OUR ART OF NATIVE AMERICAN ANNUAL ROTATION.

SO WE'LL BE REFRESHING THAT PARTICULAR INSTALLATION, SO YOU WILL BE HEARING NEW VOICES, SEEING NEW CULTURAL AND ESTHETIC ITEMS WITHIN THAT INSTALLATION.

WE'LL ALSO BE LOOKING CONTINUOUSLY TO HIGHLIGHT NATIVE VOICES IN OUR COLLECTIONS, CARE, AND MANAGEMENT.

AND THEN ALSO IN OUR PROGRAMS.

SO WE'LL BE CONTINUING WITH THAT.

BUT ALSO WE WILL REALLY -- MOVING FORWARD, WITH A NUMBER OF PARTNERSHIPS WITH NATIVE AMERICAN AND DIINDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES AND DEVELOPING EXHIBITION AND PROGRAMMING IDEAS AND THEN WORKING TOGETHER TO CARE FOR COLLECTIONS.

OF COURSE.

AND FINAL QUESTION, YOU MENTIONED AT THE TOP OF OUR INTERVIEW THAT YOU WEREN'T PHYSICALLY IN NEW YORK CITY RIGHT NOW.

AND I WAS JUST WONDERING IF YOU COULD EXPLAIN THE IMPORTANCE OF ACKNOWLEDGING THE COMMUNITY WITH WHICH YOU ARE IN?

WELL, I'M DELIGHTED TO SHARE THAT, AGAIN, I'M JOINING YOU TODAY AT O A NEW INDIGENOUS RESTAURANT THAT SPECIALIZES IN A DECOLONIZED MENU.

I'M IN MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, WHICH IS THE HOMELAND OF THE DAKOTA PEOPLES.

AS I MENTIONED, WITH ANCESTRY IN WEST CENTRAL MEXICO ON MY MOTHER'S SIDE, THAT MAKES ME A GUEST HERE IN THIS REGION.

IT'S IMPORTANT TO ME PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE ORIGINAL PEOPLES OF THIS REGION, TO RESPECT THEIR HISTORY, AND ALSO TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT I'M A GUEST HERE.

ALSO, I WANT TO MENTION THAT THE DECOLONIZED APPROACH MEANS THAT THEY HAVE A MENU THAT AVOIDS DAIRY, CAIN SUGAR, AND SPECIFIC MEATS AND FOODS THAT ARE NOT ORIGINAL TO THIS LAND.

THIS RESTAURANT PRIORITIZES INDIGENOUS AND LOCAL FOOD GROWERS.

THE OWNERS HERE, THE AWARD WINNING CHEF SUPPORT ELEVATING NATIVE AMERICAN HEALTH AND CULTURES.

AND THIS PAST SPRING, THE MET WORKED WITH THEM TO CREATE AN INDIGENOUS MENU AS PART OF OUR EXHIBITIONS.

I'M EXCITED TO BE HERE AND I LOOK FORWARD TO COLLABORATING WITH THEM AGAIN AT THE MUSEUM.

ALL RIGHT.

I WOULD LIKE TO THANK OUR GUEST, PATRICIA NORBY, THE INAUGURAL ASSOCIATE CURATOR OF NATIVE AMERICAN ART AT THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.

PATRICIA, THANK YOU FOR TAKING TIME TO JOIN US.

THANK YOU, JENNA.

ALWAYS A PLEASURE.

ABSOLUTELY.

S

> GOOD EVENING, WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

HAVE YOU EVER ASKED YOURSELF HOW DID I GET HERE?

WHAT ARE THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND THE EXPERIENCES THAT HAVE LED TO WHERE I AM RIGHT NOW?

WELL, OUR NEXT GUEST BELIEVES THAT ASKING YOURSELVES THOSE QUESTIONS ARE SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WE CAN DO.

AND THAT THE MERE ACT OF REFLECTING ON THOSE QUESTIONS WILL LEAD TO A BETTER SOCIETY FOR ALL OF US.

THE DIRECTOR OF THE NONPROFIT MOVING UP MEDIA LAB, AS WELL AS AN AUTHOR AND HOST OF THE PODCAST ATTRIBUTION WITH BOOK McKINA, WHICH IS DISTRIBUTED BY PBS.

HIS LATEST BOOK 'THREE LITTLE ENGINES' IS A MODERN RETELLING OF THE CHILDHOOD CLASSIC 'THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD.'

IN IT, HE EXPLORES CONCEPTS OF SOCIAL MOBILITY AND INEQUALITY IN A WAY THAT YOUNG CHILDREN CAN UNDERSTAND.

HE JOINS US NOW AS PART OF THE CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE EXAMINING POVERTY, JUSTICE, AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA.

BOB, WELCOME.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME, JACK.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE BOOK.

I WANT TO SHOW HERE FOR SOME FOLKS, IT'S A MARVELOUS WORK, AND THE COLORS AND THE IMAGES ADD TO THE MESSAGE THAT YOU'RE GIVING HERE.

SO AS I MENTIONED, IT'S A MODERN RETELLING OR RETAKE ON THAT CLASSIC 'THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD.'

WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO DO THAT?

YEAH.

SO AS YOU MENTIONED IN YOUR INTRODUCTION, I HAD BEEN SORT OF ASKING THIS QUESTION, HOW DID I END UP HERE ALL OF MY LIFE, BOTH PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY THROUGH THE WORK THAT I DO?

AND ALONG THAT JOURNEY, I WAS INTRODUCED TO SOME FASCINATING RESEARCH WHO LOOKS AT THIS IDEA OF HEAD WINDS VERSUS TAIL WINDS.

IF YOU GO OUT FOR A RUN, YOU'RE MORE AWARE OF THE WIND WBLOWING IN YOUR FACE THAN THE WIND AT YOUR BACK.

ANY WAYS, I MET HIM THROUGH A MUTUAL CONNECTION.

HE FORWARDED ME AN ARTICLE WRITTEN ABOUT HIS WORK.

AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE, SHE ASKS HIM WHAT HE DOES IN HIS OWN LIFE TO REFLECT HIS RESEARCH?

AND HE RESPONDS, SOUNDS SORT OF HARSH.

HE SAID I'LL TELL YOU WHAT I DON'T DO, I DON'T READ THE 'LITTLE ENGINE THAXT COULD' BECAUSE SOME ENGINES CAN'T AND IT'S NOT FAIR.

I THOUGHT THAT SOUNDED HARSH.

I HAD READ 'THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD.'

I LOVED IT AND HAD A COPY OF MY KIDS.

I WENT BACK AND READ IT AND I SAW WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT.

SO I WANTED TO HAVE, YOU KNOW, AN ATTEMPT TO TRY TO TELL THE STORY THAT WAS LESS ABOUT I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN, THE IMPORTANCE OF BELIEVING IN OURSELVES.

AND INSTEAD, I THINK WE CAN, I THINK WE CAN ABOUT BELIEVING IN EACH OTHER.

I WANT PEOPLE TO GO AT IT AND GET THIS, IT'S JUST SO WONDERFUL.

I MENTIONED TO YOU BEFORE WE STARTED THAT WE HAD A 15-MONTH-OLD LITTLE GRANDSON WITH US THIS WEEKEND, AND WE READ IT TO HIM.

NOW, AT HIS AGE, HE'S LOVING THE COLORS AND THE PICTURES.

WE HAVE OUR 6 AND 3-YEAR-OLDS AND WE WANT TO READ IT TO THEM, BECAUSE I THINK THEY CAN GRASP THE MESSAGE HERE.

BUT HOW DID YOU CHANGE THE STORY AROUND, 'THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD' INTO THE 'THREE LITTLE ENGINES.'

SURE.

IN SOME BASE IT ACTS AS ALMOST IT'S A PREQUEL OR ORIGIN STORY.

IT STARTS OUT WITH THREE LITTLE ENGINES ALL IN THE ORIGINAL.

NOW IT'S THEIR LAST DAY OF ENGINE SCHOOL, AND IN ORDER TO GRADUATE, THEY HAVE TO GET OVER THE MOUNTAIN.

YOU SEE FROM THE BEGINNING IN THE BEAUTIFUL ILLUSTRATIONS HOW DIFFERENT THEIR TRACKS ARE.

AND SO YOU'RE ABLE TO SEE THAT THIS MIGHT BE DIFFERENT THAN THE ORIGINAL.

AND THE LITTLE BLUE ENGINE, YOU KNOW, FROM THE ORIGINAL, SHE GOES ABOUT HER JOURNEY, SHE HAS SOME STRUGGLES.

SHE GOES, I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN, AND MAKES IT OVER.

BUT THE OTHER TWO JOURNEYS HAVE STRUGGLES AND THEY'RE TRYING REALLY HARD.

BUT WHAT GETS IN THEIR WAY MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE TO GET OVER THE MOUNTAIN.

AT FIRST, HER REACTION IS SORT OF ONE OF FRUSTRATION, LIKE WHERE ARE MY FRIENDS?

DID THEY QUIT?

WHY DID THEY STOP?

AND THEIR TEACHER ASKS HER A SERIES OF QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW HER JOURNEY WAS AND HOW IT MIGHT BE DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF HER FRIENDS.

THERE'S A WONDERFUL MOMENT, AGAIN, BEAUTIFULLY ILLUSTRATED WHERE IT SAYS THAT AFTER ASKING THESE QUESTIONS, SHE SITS QUIETLY AND REFLECTS AND REALIZES THAT HER JOURNEY WAS DIFFERENT FROM HER FRIENDS.

AND THEN ASKS THE QUESTION, IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN DO TO HELP?

AND IT ENDS WITH THIS NOTION, I THINK WE CAN, I THINK WE CAN, I THINK WE CAN.

AND WE GO BACK UP THE MOUNTAIN TO HELP THEIR FRIENDS DOWN.

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT, AND THAT YOU ARE NOT IN THIS BOOK TRYING TO DEMINISH THE NOTION OF POSITIVE THINKING AND HARD WORK, CORRECT?

THAT'S CORRECT, YEAH.

IN NO WAY AM I TRYING TO DO THAT.

IN THE BOOK, IT SAYS, YOU KNOW, SHE WORKED HARD AND WE RECOGNIZE IT AND IT SHOULD BE CELEBRATED.

IT'S MORE THIS NOTION THAT WE ALL HAVE DIFFERENT JOURNEYS, AND WE SHOULD APPRECIATE AND UNDERSTAND OUR OWN, AND ALSO SEE HOW IT MAY BE DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS.

SO YES, IT'S DEFINITELY, YOU KNOW, IT'S HONORING THE CLASSIC AND THE IDEA OF I THINK I CAN AND BELIEVING IN YOURSELF AND ADDING A LAYER TO IT.

THAT'S A GOOD WAY TO SAY IT, IT'S ADDING TO IT, NOT DIMINISHING IT.

WHEN YOU PUT TOGETHER SOMETHING LIKE THIS, HOW MUCH DO YOU DRAW FROM YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES IN ORDER TO PUT DOWN IN THIS BEAUTIFUL -- THESE BEAUTIFUL IMAGES AND BEAUTIFUL MESSAGES WHAT YOU WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND?

YEAH.

SO ALL OF THIS WORK IS WRITTEN IN MY OWN EXPERIENCE.

SO I GREW UP IN A TOWN OUTSIDE OF BOSTON CALLED CHELSEA, WHICH IS THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE ORIGINAL RAGS TO RICHES AUTHOR.

AND THEN WE MOVED TO RURAL PENNSYLVANIA, YOU KNOW, AND LIVED IN TRAILER PARKS.

MOST OF MY LIFE WAS WITH A SINGLE MOM TRYING TO RAISE THREE KIDS.

THROUGHOUT MY JOURNEY, I'VE BEEN FORTUNATE AND HAD SUCCESS, AND A LOT OF PEOPLE IN MY FAMILY HAD DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT LIFE OUTCOMES.

I KNOW THEY DID NOT WORK ANY LESS HARD THAN I DID, RIGHT?

YOU KNOW, IN THEIR JOBS AND CAREERS.

SO I WAS ALWAYS JUST CURIOUS TO KNOW WHAT'S DRIVING THESE DIFFERENT OUTCOMES?

THE FIRST THINGS THAT WERE FASCINATING TO ME IS THERE ARE SORT OF INCREASING BODY OF RESEARCH OF WHAT HELPS KIDS MOVE UP, A PROTECTIVE PARENT WHO BUFFERS YOU FROM THE DIFFICULT THINGS YOU MAY EXPERIENCE.

BUT THEN THERE WAS ALSO THE PSYCHOLOGY OF HOW WE THINK ABOUT WHERE WE END UP IN LIFE.

AND THAT TO ME WAS REALLY FASCINATING.

IT'S INTERESTING.

I SHARE MUCH OF YOUR EXPERIENCE.

I WAS RAISED BY A SINGLE MOTHER, FOUR CHILDREN.

I WAS FORTUNATE TO HAVE, AS YOU MENTIONED, I HAD TEACHERS, COACHES IN MY LIFE WHO PROVIDED THAT GUIDANCE, THAT ABILITY TO WORK HARD.

HELP YOU GET AROUND THOSE OBSTACLES THERE.

FOOTBALL GOT ME TO COLLEGE, AND I LOOK BACK AND ALL OF THESE THINGS, AND ALL OF THESE PEOPLE AND THESE OPPORTUNITIES.

AND I SEE SOME FRIENDS OF MINE THAT DIDN'T GET THAT.

AND THEN HAVE NOT GOT ON THE WHERE THEY WANT TO BE IN THEIR LIVES.

WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR US TO REFLECT ON THOSE NOTIONS OF SOCIAL MOBILITY AND EXPERIENCES THAT HAVE HELPED US GET WHERE WE ARE?

YEAH.

SO I THINK THERE'S A COUPLE OF REASONS.

ONE IS THAT IF WE DON'T, WE HAVE A TENDENCY TO PREJUDGE.

YOU KNOW, WE JUDGE OUR OWN SUCCESS.

WE JUDGE THE OUTCOMES OF OTHERS AND MAY DO SO HARSHLY AT TIMES.

RESEARCH WILL TELL YOU WHEN YOU REFLECT ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE AND YOU REALIZE THERE MAY BE OTHER FACTORS THAT WE'RE CONTRIBUTING TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY, YOU FEEL MORE GRATEFUL, MORE APPRECIATIVE.

AND IMPORTANTLY, MORE SUPPORTIVE OF OTHERS.

WHO MAYBE ARE HAVING STRUGGLES THAT YOU DID OR DIDN'T EXPERIENCE.

SO I KNOW THAT THERE HAS OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST TEN YEARS, A LOT OF ATTENTION PAID TO THE IMPORTANCE OF EMPATHY IN OUR CULTURE, WHICH IS IN IMPORTANT, WE WANT TO BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND PUTTING OURSELVES IN THE SHOES OF OTHER PEOPLE.

MY WORK CENTERS AROUND A CONCEPT CALLED ATTRIBUTION, WHICH IS TRYING TO UNDERSTAND HOW YOU'VE GOT TO BE WEARING YOUR SHOES IN THE FIRST PLACE.

SO I THINK THAT'S A PRECURSOR TO EMPATHY AND SUPPORTING OTHERS AND LEADS TO A HAPPIER AND MORE GRATEFUL LIFE FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO SPEND TIME TO DO IT.

TELL ME ABOUT THE MECHANICS OF PUT THING BOOK TOGETHER.

AS I SAID, YOU HOST PODCASTS, YOU'RE AN AUTHOR, YOU'VE DONE ALL SORTS OF THINGS LOOKING INTO THESE SOCIAL ISSUES.

AND NOW YOU'RE DOING A CHILDREN'S BOOK.

CONTRARY TO WHAT SOME PEOPLE MIGHT THINK, DOING A CHILDREN'S BOOK DOESN'T MEAN YOU'RE DUMBING DOWN NOTIONS OR CONCEPTS.

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT THE ACT OF PUTTING TOGETHER A CHILDREN'S BOOK AND THEN MARRYING IT WITH THE IMAGES THAT ARE SO IMPORTANT?

YEAH.

SO I WENT TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL FIRST.

I REALLY READ THE BOOK AND TRIED TO UNDERSTAND THE CHARACTERS AND WHAT THAT LOOKED LIKE, AND I STILL HAVE IT.

I HAVE A LITTLE JOURNAL AT MY BEDSIDE AND I PULLED IT OUT AND WROTE THE ORIGINAL DRAFT FOR THE BOOK, RIGHT?

AND THEN I'VE GOT THREE YOUNG CHILDREN, SO I READ IT TO THEM.

I SAID HEY, YOU'RE THE EXPERTS HERE.

THAT COULD BE A TOUGH AUDIENCE.

THE TOUGHEST AUDIENCE, YES, NO DOUBT.

AND THEY WERE REALLY SUPPORTIVE.

AND THEN I WAS FORTUNATE TO GET CONNECTED IN LUCK AND FORTUNE IN OUR LOCAL TIME WITH A WELL REPRESENTED AND WELL-KNOWN ILLUSTRATOR.

AND I ASKED HIM WHAT HE THOUGHT, AND HE THOUGHT THERE WAS SOMETHING IN IT.

I THEN HAD TO GO THROUGH THE PROCESS OF HAVING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ISSUES.

SO I COLD CALLED PENGUIN, WHO OWNED THE ORIGINAL RIGHTS AND CHILDREN'S PUBLISHING IS DIFFICULT TO GET INTO.

SO A COLD CALL IS USUALLY NOT THE BEST ANGLE.

I SENT AN EMAIL, DIDN'T HEAR.

THEN THEY SAID, WOULD YOU SEND US YOUR MANUSCRIPT AND WE'LL CHECK IT OUT.

AND THEN THEY -- MONTHS WENT BY AND FINALLY GOT ON THE PHONE WITH SOMEBODY THERE, AND I THOUGHT THEY WERE GOING TO TELL ME I COULDN'T DO IT OR HAD TO MAKE IT LESS LIKE THE ORIGINAL.

THEY SAID THE OPPOSITE.

THEY SAID THE 90th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ORIGINAL WAS COMING AROUND AND WE HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR AN OPPORTUNITY TO TELL A MORE MODERN VERSION OF THIS, CAN WE PUBLISH YOUR BOOK?

AND WHEN I STARTED THE ORIGINAL DRAFT, THERE WAS THIS NOTION OF THEY'RE GOING OVER THE MOUNTAIN.

WHY ARE THEY GOING OVER THIS MOUNTAIN?

OH, WHAT ABOUT GRADUATION?

SO THERE WAS THAT ITERATIVE PROCESS.

BUT THE IDEA OF TAKING COMPLICATED TOPICS FROM SOCIAL SCIENCE AND DRILLING IT DOWN INTO SOMETHING WAS REALLY CHOICEFUL IN TERMS OF MAKING SURE WE'RE ASKING QUESTIONS OF THE LITTLE ENGINE VERSUS TELLING HER WHAT TO THINK, ALLOWING HER TO TOM COME TO THE CONCLUSION HERSELF.

SO IT WAS A FOUR-YEAR JOURNEY OVER THIS MOUNTAIN WITH A LOT OF TWISTS AND TURNS.

WITH THEIR OWN OBSTACLES.

YEAH, YEAH.

WELL, AS I MENTIONED BEFORE, I HAD A CHANCE TO -- WITH MY SON, HIS SON, HIS 15-MONTH-OLD, AND THIS WEEKEND, WE HAVE THE 6-YEAR-OLD AND 3-YEAR-OLD GRANDSONS COMING.

AND I'M VERY MUCH LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING WHAT THEIR REACTIONS WILL BE TO SITTING DOWN AND READING THIS ALL WITH THEM.

SO, AGAIN, AS I MENTIONED BEFORE, IT IS CALLED 'THREE LITTLE ENGINES,' IT'S A MODERN RETELLING AND VERY IMPORTANT RETELLING OF THAT CLASSIC, 'THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD.'

AND INTERESTING ABOUT HOW GOOD IT WAS THAT YOU CAME UP WITH THIS IDEA.

BUT IT'S SUCH A GREAT BOOK FOR ANYBODY TO READ, EVEN ADULTS AS A MATTER OF FACT.

THANK YOU FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US.

GOOD LUCK WITH US AND YOU BE WELL.

MY PLEASURE.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME ON, JACK.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G.

PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION, THE JPB FOUNDATION.

©2021 WNET. All Rights Reserved. 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019

WNET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID: 26-2810489