breakthrough

Don’t Just Wait for Your Turn to Speak, Listen!

 

CEO Message

Don’t Just Wait for Your Turn to Speak, Listen!

 

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEOWas it an “Only in Hawai‘i” phenomenon?

 

Talking with me on Long Story Short back in 2008, Hawai‘i Island Mayor Harry Kim singled out a barrier he faced in settling contentious community issues.

 

The problem isn’t getting people to the table, he said. They show up, all right.

 

But too often, they’re interested only in telling their side. Mayor Kim has seen the abyss between hearing and listening.

 

Big Island Mayor Harry Kim: "Will you at least listen?"

 

“Will you at least…listen?” he would ask assembled opponents. “Will you listen to the other side, then talk?”

 

Author Stephen R. Covey put it this way: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

 

Or as John Wayne commented drily to a big talker in one of his cowboy movies, “You’re short on ears and long on mouth.”

 

Hardly a new phenomenon, this practice of not listening has picked up steam. Talking heads on cable television have made it a tradition to shout over each other, and political town halls devolve into parallel rants. Courtesy is a quaint notion.

 

Here at PBS Hawai‘i, we don’t claim to have the answers. We believe that a path to understanding is civil discourse. We’re convinced that listening is as important as speaking.

 

That’s why we’ve become a trusted space for roundtable forums, one-on-one interviews and diverse group discussions.

 

The idea is to rely on active listening and grow a conversation that is far more illuminating than the setting forth of respective opinions.

 

If nothing else, listening guides you in knowing what to say and when, to best effect.

 

As 2017 comes to a close, I think of competing strident voices I’ve heard over the year; of many simmering issues in this country; and of people facing each other to talk, not listen.

 

My wish for the new year is a leavening of respect for others and understanding.

 

I’m not saying this will cure our ills, but I bet we’d have some breakthroughs.

 

We can start by being short on mouth and long on ears.

 

Wishing you peace,

 

Leslie signature

Leslie Wilcox
President and CEO
PBS Hawai‘i

 

What Drives KEN BURNS?

 

CEO Message

What Drives Ken Burns?

 

Ken Burns, Photo courtesy of Justin Altman

 

Filmmaker Ken Burns, who’s coming out with an 18-hour Vietnam War film to be shown over 10 evenings this month on PBS Hawai‘i, freely admits that he’s a workaholic; that he’s obsessive in his pursuit of archival material for his films; that his detractors dismiss him as long-winded.

 

And Burns can laugh at himself.

 

As he did when he was being honored as the greatest American documentary filmmaker of his generation. Stepping up to receive a lifetime achievement, he joked that he’d prepared a nine-part response.

 

He had to learn about laughter, since sadness and loss were prevailing childhood themes.

 

Burns, 64, is clear about what drives him and his compulsion to look at the past. It is the death of his mother, Lyla Burns, just before he turned 12. She had suffered from breast cancer for nearly a decade.

 

Burns remembers coming home from school or play every day and telling his ailing mother stories about what had happened, in effect sharing life with her. After she passed away, he recalls watching movies with father, Robert Burns, and seeing him cry, which was something his father didn’t do in other circumstances. That’s when young Burns says he grasped the storytelling power of film.

 

In a short video posted online at creativeplanetnetwork.com, Burns says: “I found myself becoming a documentary filmmaker, trying to tell stories and using American history to tell those stories that I wanted to tell. When you look back at it, the job that I try to do is to wake the dead. And it doesn’t seem too far a leap to understand, from that early decision to be a filmmaker, who I really want to wake up.”

 

From the earliest time that he can remember as a child, he says he knew his beloved mom was sick. He was not close to his father.

 

As a young man, he rejected chasing a Hollywood-type career. He says he innately knew, and was taught at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, that “there’s much more drama in what is and what was, than in anything the human imagination can dream of.”

 

Delivering the commencement address at Stanford University last year, Burns explained that delving into history can lead to personal and professional breakthroughs.

 

“The past often offers an illuminating and clear-headed perspective from which to observe and reconcile the passions of the present moment, just when they threaten to overwhelm us,” he told new graduates.

 

Burns wants this newest film with his creative partner Lynn Novick, about the divisive Vietnam War era, to spur national healing.

 

As he told an interviewer from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee:

 

“We caught something during the Vietnam War – like a virus – and we are still suffering from the effects of that virus today. I’m hoping my film is a bit like a vaccination – that it exposes you to a little bit of the disease to permit you to go past it and heal from it.”

 

I invite you to join me in viewing this new Burns/Novick film series, starting at 8:00 pm, Sunday, September 17, on your TV station, PBS Hawai‘i.

 

A hui hou (until next time),
Leslie Wilcoxʻ signature

 

 

NOVA
Lethal Seas

 

Marine scientists across the world are hunting for clues to one of the greatest environmental catastrophes facing our planet today: ocean acidification. For years we’ve known the ocean absorbs about a quarter of the carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. But as carbon emissions continue to rise, seawater chemistry is changing, and the ocean’s acidity is increasing. As a result, the skeletons and shells of marine creatures that form the foundation of the web of life are dissolving. Follow scientists who are seeking solutions and making breakthrough discoveries, including a unique coral garden in Papua New Guinea that offers a glimpse of what the seas could be like in a half-century.