Humanitou is dead. Long live Humanitou. (Read “What does ‘Humanitou’ mean? “)
I’ve been on hiatus from the Humanitou podcast since the summer of 2021.
After more than four years of publishing conversations on the Humanitou website, in one form (text) or another (audio), and of wearing all the hats imaginable with such an endeavor …
And having lived in isolation with my wife and sons virtually 24/7 for well more than a year and counting at that time during a seemingly endless pandemic, which, it would turn out, was (is) still not over …
I took the break that was inevitable. Indefinitely. Starting in July 2021. At that time, I’d moved with my family from Manitou Springs, Colo., the partial namesake for Humanitou, a couple hours west, deeper into the mountains and quiet of Chaffee County, Colo. I’d continued the Humanitou podcast for five months there, doing it remotely with guests across the U.S. and across the world.
Then it just got to be too much. On all of us it seemed, guests included.
By the time I stopped reaching out to prospective guests, I had 10, 12, 15 amazing people who over time had enthusiastically enough agreed to be on the podcast. But each of them ultimately would slip away from our email correspondences, and so would I.
I imagined each of them, like me, had all they wanted and then some in trying to continue functioning in spite of their pandemic and political anxieties. They didn’t need one more thing to do via video call with a stranger. And so neither did I.
I ended up setting aside more or less all creative projects. I spent a lot of time running mountain trails, and continuing to live largely in isolation with my family. My sons would school at home for more than two years in total. My wife works at home. I also work at home, and for a long period of time, my being a stay-at-home-dad took priority. We all, naturally, began to feel the effects of … so much.
As the pandemic continued(s) and societal insanity seemed(s) to run amok, I retreated into streaming familiar TV shows on Hulu, Netflix and Peacock, shows like “The Office,” “Vikings,” “Peaky Blinders,” and, for the fourth, fifth, sixth times through from pilot to series finale, “Sons of Anarchy.” There was comfort in the familiar. I didn’t really have to pay attention, and I’d still know what was around every corner.
I continued to practice asana (yoga). Then I didn’t (still don’t). I continued to meditate. Until I didn’t (still don’t) with the daily consistency I once had. My mental health deteriorated. Anxiety, depression.
Then in early in 2022, a serendipitous opportunity came about. As a result, I would have a lifeline for reemerging. I don’t know that I noticed its full value at first, but a light of hope would appear. We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream was a new podcast-slash-local radio show coming to be in Chaffee County, Colo., and I was asked about hosting it. I’m now several months into that work.
Looking Upstream is much like Humanitou at heart. It’s about connecting as humans by sharing vulnerably in meaningful conversations. The conversations are then shared publicly to cultivate compassion and understanding, and to strengthen community.
It’s also a dream realized for me. When I started Humanitou in 2017, I wanted it to lead to bright opportunities with like-hearted people who would pay me to be me, to use my broad set of creative skills and interests to do good things together. Five years later … the We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream podcast.
This podcast has stoked the dormant embers of my creativity. It’s called me out to reengage in the world. I’ve been making art again, returning to existing work and starting new projects, too. I’m slowly working on what’s next for the Humanitou podcast, too.
I’m writing essays and blog posts. And I have started writing poetry again in my thoughts, tiny mandalas of the mind that come and go. I’m again photographing people (portraits related to Looking Upstream) and still life work (not unlike Reverence & UnReverence).
I’ll also tell you that my sons are back in school and thriving. Absolutely thriving. My wife and I are both enjoying our work. As a family, we’re reestablishing a healthier stasis of daily life, “post”-pandemic. We go our separate ways each morning, and enjoy returning to each other later and asking, “How was your day?” Like some kind of normal we once knew.
The Humanitou hiatus could be described as over. Humanitou always was an evolving domain of creativity. It always was more than conversations and a podcast and a newsletter. Its shape feels different now. It’s waking from a long sleep and stretching its limbs.
Humanitou was dead. Long live Humanitou … and We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream.
ABOUT … We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream
The Looking Upstream podcast is part of the We Are Chaffee storytelling initiative, created as a collaboration with the Chaffee County Department of Public Health and Chaffee Housing Authority. It is supported by the Colorado Public Health & Environment: Office of Health Disparities.
Looking Upstream is available on all podcast listening platforms (e.g. Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Google, Pandora). It is broadcast weekly at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, on KHEN 106.9 FM community radio in Salida, Colo. It’s also available online at wearechaffee.org and khen.org.
Listen to the audio trailer for the We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream podcast:
TRANSCRIPT: AUDIO TRAILER
[Intro music, guitar instrumental]
This is Adam Williams, host of We Are Chaffee: Looking Upstream, a human-forward, conversational podcast in which I typically talk with guests about their lived experiences and how those have shaped who they are now.
From time to time, we also weave topics into the conversation that, admittedly, have particular relevance where this podcast geographically is located, in Chaffee County, in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. But these topics likely are relevant to you wherever you live.
We’re talking about things that affect families, towns and regions all over, and have big impacts on how connected and healthy – or not – we are in our communities.
Despite the fact the beautiful Arkansas River flows through our valley here, drawing whitewater enthusiasts from across the world, the name of the podcast, Looking Upstream, actually has to do with what are known as upstream health factors.
Those factors are all the things that go into making a community healthy, vibrant and connected – and they present some really big challenges when priorities and policies get out of whack.
I’m talking about having affordable homes that help us to feel safe and healthy, affordable food that keeps us going strong, the jobs that put that food on the table in that home, and the sense of community that gives us social connections and the feeling that we’re all in this together.
When any of those parts are not working well … for me, for you, for our neighbors and coworkers, our employers and healthcare systems, for the people who serve us at restaurants and fix our cars when they break down, the ones who answer emergency calls and keep our roads repaired … I mean, the list goes on until every single person in the community is accounted for … and when that network is not functioning well, we all will feel it sooner or later … downstream. That’s where the consequences land.
Looking Upstream is focused on getting to know each other more intimately by sharing personal stories, getting to really see and hear each other, maybe people we wouldn’t normally stop on the street and get to know.
And through these stories, when we’re really open to listening to them, we can learn about the who, what, why and how of the challenges that we all face in our communities, together. That’s when we really can start to do something about them.
So, all that said … I invite you to listen to the Looking Upstream podcast. New episodes hit streaming devices every other Tuesday, wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. You can get the show notes and full show transcripts at wearechaffee.org.
In the meantime, like we say at We Are Chaffee, “be human, share stories.”
[Outro music, guitar and horns instrumental]