"Think Out Loud" producers and host (left to right) Samantha Matsumoto, Allison Frost, Dave Miller, Julie Sabatier and Sage Van Wing.

“Think Out Loud” producers and host (left to right) Samantha Matsumoto, Allison Frost, Dave Miller, Julie Sabatier and Sage Van Wing.

Jonathan Levinson/OPB

As 2018 comes to a close, the staff of OPB’s “Think Out Loud” look back on some of their favorite conversations from a groundbreaking news year.

An Authentic Voice

In September, we talked to the composer Sarah Hennies, who created a performance called “Contralto” for this year’s Time Based Art Festival. It was part live music and part documentary, and it featured transgender women who had all taken a class to try to “feminize” their voices. Hennies was smart, funny and brutally honest. “Do you feel like the voice you’re speaking in right now is your authentic voice,” I asked. “The way you want to sound?”

“No,” she answered, “I’m nervous and uptight all the time.” — Dave Miller

A Needed Conversation

“Hands Up”/”Cop Out” was a series of monologues — based on the real experiences of African-Americans and police officers. I sent this TOL to my whole family in California to listen to, including my brother who became a cop in Oakland. I sent it to those I love the most because I wanted to share with them a real life example of what I believe is so desperately needed — by everyone.

We seem to have forgotten how to talk to those we disagree with. It’s hard. So hard it seems impossible. Director Kevin Jones, who is black, and Portland police deputy Bob Day, who is white, demonstrated how it’s done. I was so moved as they described in detail — specifically — what questions they asked of the other, how they listened to opinions they disagreed with and how they reached a place of understanding. Not agreement, but understanding.

Sounds like magic doesn’t it? Listen. See what you think. — Allison Frost

Songwriting For Hope

We met Kate Fraser when she was living in a Portland homeless shelter with her husband, son and new baby daughter. She became homeless shortly before her daughter was born, and her family couch-surfed for several months before they got into a shelter. When her daughter was a few months old, Fraser participated in the Lullaby Project, which pairs homeless mothers with local songwriters to write lullabies for their babies. Fraser told us that she almost didn’t take part in the project.

She was feeling depressed and hopeless after she lost her home, and she didn’t think writing a lullaby would change that. But she did it anyway. The song she wrote with Portland songwriter Anna Tivel is short, sweet and so full of love. And even though she thought it wouldn’t, Fraser told us that writing it gave her a new sense of hope. I was struck by her ability to create something beautiful during such a difficult time. I feel lucky that she shared it with us. — Samantha Matsumoto

Teen Dad

Uhusti Gause with his son, Uhusti Jr., at the Walking With Dinosaurs event in 2017. 

Uhusti Gause with his son, Uhusti Jr., at the Walking With Dinosaurs event in 2017. 

courtesy of Uhusti Gause

When he was 15, Uhusti Gause became a dad. And in our conversation with him, he said having a son has changed his life for the better. Gause clearly loves his son and he went through a lot to stay active in his child’s life, considering he and his girlfriend broke up shortly after the birth. In fact, he really threw Dave Miller for a loop when he told him he actually wished his son had been born sooner.

He said if it had happened closer to the start of the school year, he would have gotten his act together sooner and done better in school for his entire freshman year. We’re pretty sure he wasn’t kidding. — Julie Sabatier

 A Literary Legend

Writer Ursula Le Guin

Writer Ursula Le Guin

Todd Sonflieth/OPB

Oregon author and luminary Ursula K. Le Guin passed away in January at the age of 88. Le Guin has been a favorite author of mine since childhood. The Earthsea Trilogy were the first books that I stayed up late all night reading. “The Left Hand of Darkness” was a feminist awakening for me.

And “The Dispossessed” was a political one. When Le Guin died, her close friend, author Molly Gloss was generous enough to join us on the show.

She put Le Guin’s life and legacy in context and shared some personal memories of Le Guin as both a teacher and a friend. — Sage Van Wing

Also discussed in the “Think Out Loud” 2018 Best Of Show: