Mark Lakeman Interview

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Hey Thought Stackers!

We have a special episode, today we have one of the most inspiring people I’ve met, Mark Lakeman. I met Mark a few years ago at the Lightning in a Bottle festival where he covered many of the topics you’re about to hear on this cast.

Portland has been in the midst of a total renaissance and that can be attributed to Mark and his team over at City Repair.  If you make it to the end of this cast, you might just become an activist for a better community.

In this episode you’ll learn three things:

  1. The big realization Mark discovered while traveling the world for 7 years.
  2. How colonialism has damaged our villager instincts and what we can do to fix it
  3. How you need to be slightly anarchist if you want to live in a better world.

01:05 – Mark discusses what caused him to quit his lucrative job as an architect to travel the world and how that almost killed him.

08:03 – Mark talks about his upbringing, philosophy, and how realizing we “don’t know” is vital for personal growth.

13:15 – Mark goes into how decisions for land usage as far back as the year 1785, affect our lives today. This reminded me of the 5 monkeys experiment, where a group of scientists placed 5 monkeys in a cage and in the middle, a ladder with bananas on the top.

Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the rest of the monkeys with cold water. After awhile, every time a monkey went up the ladder, the others beat up the one on the ladder.

After some time, no monkey dared to go up the ladder regardless of the temptation.

Scientists then decided to substitute one of the monkeys. The first thing the new monkey did was to go up the ladder. Immediately the other monkey’s beat him up. After several beatings, the new member learned not to climb the ladder even though they never knew why. A new monkey was introduced, while a member of the original group was removed until only new monkeys remained. What was left was a group of 5 monkeys that even though they never received a cold shower, continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder. Sometimes it’s worth questioning how we got here and if there is a better way.

After several beatings, the new member learned not to climb the ladder even though they never knew why. A new monkey was introduced, while a member of the original group was removed until only new monkeys remained. What was left was a group of 5 monkeys that even though they never received a cold shower, continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder. Sometimes it’s worth questioning how we got here and if there is a better way.

What was left was a group of 5 monkeys that even though they never received a cold shower, continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder. Sometimes it’s worth questioning how we got here and if there is a better way.

Mark’s discussion of how our society has fallen victim to the 5 Monkey’s Experiment.

18:07 – Here Mark applies the mental model of Inversion to fix a city like LA to empower its people instead of the status quo of making us feel alone and stressed out.

27:53 – Mark shares how Portland’s placemaking activism, has been revitalizing the standard of living and how it’s a model that can be applied to any city around the world.

34:31 – Mark goes into some of his recommended resources so you can get started revitalizing your local community. Links to the resources will be on our website at thoughtstack.co and the book mark refers to is called City Repair’s Placemaking Guidebook.

39:23 – Mark describes how it was only through breaking the law that any change can happen.

44:28 – If you’d like to reach out to Mark, here’s his contact information:

  1. CityRepair.org
  2. Communitecture.net
  3. YouTube search Mark Lakeman

Actionable Nugget

I want to know, who’s your neighbor? Have you had them over for coffee or tea? If you haven’t, what can you do to change that?

I recently moved into a new place and after listening to Mark, I made sure to buy a bottle of wine for all my neighbors and put a little card introducing myself and giving them my number. I actually got a text for each one and had some over for a little party at my place. I learned people want to hang out, it just takes a little activation energy from us to make it happen.

So try it, go meet your neighbor and hang out! Let me know how it goes.

Lastly, now that summer is pretty much over, we’ll be releasing more episodes on a regular basis, so if you’ve been missing our episodes, hang tight, you’re about to get a lot more.

Thanks again for listening! If you have one second, it’d be super helpful if you could give us a quick rating on iTunes. We read every single comment and it really helps us understand how to make these episodes meaningful to you.  While you’re at it, be sure to subscribe so you never miss a new one.

Stay Thought-Full!

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