The Matter of Loneliness: Building Connections for Collective Well-Being

March 7-8, 2024


Reclaiming Curiosity: A Fireside Chat

How to have fearlessly curious conversations in dangerously divided times

1:45 – 3:30 p.m. | March 7 | Chris Knutzen, Anderson University Center

Mónica Guzmán, Bridge-Builder, Journalist, Author

Mónica Guzmán is a bridge builder, journalist, and author who lives for great conversations sparked by curious questions. Her new book, I Never Thought of it 

Mónica Guzmán photo

That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times was featured on the Glenn Beck Podcast and named a New York Times recommended read. She’s Senior Fellow for Public Practice at Braver Angels, the nation’s largest cross-partisan grassroots organization working to depolarize America; host of A Braver Way, a podcast that equips people with the tools they need to bridge the political divide in their everyday lives; founder and CEO of Reclaim Curiosity, an organization working to build a more curious world; cofounder of the award-winning Seattle newsletter The Evergrey; and advisor for Starts With Us and the Generations Over Dinner project. She was a 2019 fellow at the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, where she studied social and political division, and a 2016 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, where she researched how journalists can rethink their roles to better meet the needs of a participatory public. Moni is the inaugural McGurn Fellow at the University of Florida, working with researchers at the UF College of Journalism and Communications and beyond to better understand ways to employ techniques described in her book to boost understanding. She was named one of the 50 most influential women in Seattle, served twice as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes, and plays a barbarian named Shadrack in her besties’ Dungeons & Dragons campaign. A Mexican immigrant, Latina, and dual US/Mexico citizen, she lives in Seattle with her husband and two kids and is the proud liberal daughter of conservative parents.


Wild Kinship: Disability Wisdom, Interdependence, and the Elemental World

3:40 – 5:10 p.m. | March 7 | Regency Room, Anderson University Center

Julia Watts Belser, Professor of Jewish Studies and Disability Studies Core Faculty, Georgetown University

Julia Watts Belser

Julia Watts Belser (she/her) is professor of Jewish Studies at Georgetown University and core faculty in Georgetown’s Disability Studies program, as well as a rabbi and longtime activist for disability and gender justice. Julia’s research brings classical Jewish texts into conversation with disability studies, feminist and queer theory, and environmental justice. She is the author of several scholarly books, including Rabbinic Tales of Destruction: Gender, Sex, and Disability in the Ruins of Jerusalem (Oxford University Press, 2018). She also directs Disability and Climate Change: A Public Archive Project, a project that partners with grassroots disability leaders to document the way that disability communities are responding to climate change. Her latest book is Loving Our Own Bones: Disability Wisdom and the Spiritual Subversiveness of Knowing Ourselves Whole (Beacon Press, 2023) which won a 2024 National Jewish Book Award for “Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice”

How to Do Nothing

7:00 – 8:30 p.m. | March 7 | Chris Knutzen Hall, Anderson University Center

Jenny Odell, Writer and Artist

Jenny Odell is a writer and artist whose work centers around the power of observation and attention in shaping our reality. Her first book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, is “a complex, smart and ambitious book that at first reads like a self-help manual, then blossoms into a wide-ranging political manifesto” (New York Times Book Review).

Jenny Odel

A New York Times bestseller that Barack Obama named as one of his favorite books of the year, How to Do Nothing resists categorization, touching on everything from ancient Greek philosophy to birding to labor strikes to performance art. In it, Odell argues that our attention is our most valuable (and scarce) resource, and we must actively and continuously choose how we use it—instead of letting the forces of capitalism choose for us. Instead, we can use our attention to reimagine and reconnect with our environments and our communities.

Jenny Odell’s highly-anticipated, Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock, answers the question, “What if you don’t have time to spend in quiet contemplation?” Odell takes a deep dive into the fundamental structure of our society—time—and finds that the clock we live by was built for profit, not for humans. When life has become a series of moments to be bought, sold, and converted into productivity, Odell argues, our painful relationship to time becomes interwoven with social inequities, climate crisis, and existential dread. In Saving Time, Jenny Odell offers different ways to experience time, pulling from pre-industrial cultures, nature, and geological time scales, that provide a respite, a source of meaning, and a more humane way of living.

In her expansive, tailored talks to students, creatives, and communities, Odell shares powerful presentations that combine sociology, ecology, geology, economics, and cultural history to create a truly unique argument for reclaiming our relationships with attention and time. She also draws on her art background to ask questions about how art changes our relationships with the world around us. A fascinating and charming speaker, Odell leaves audiences renewed, invigorated, and with fresh perspectives.

Jenny Odell is also a talented visual artist who has been exhibited at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, the New York Public Library, the Marjorie Barrick Museum, Les Rencontres D’Arles, Fotomuseum Antwerpen, Fotomuseum Winterthur, La Gaîté Lyrique, the Lishui Photography Festival, and apexart. She has also been an artist in residence at Recology San Francisco (a.k.a. “the dump”), the San Francisco Planning Department, the Internet Archive, and the Montalvo Arts Center. From 2013 to 2021, she taught digital art at Stanford University.

In addition to her bestselling books, Odell’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Sierra, and other publications. She lives in Oakland, California.

For more information on Speaker, please visit www.prhspeakers.com.

Our Story: Blackness, Belonging & Dreaming the Family Tree

12:30 – 1:35 p.m. | March 8 | Regency Room, Anderson University Center

Carolyn Finney PhD, Environmental Studies Professor of Practice, Franklin Environmental Center, Middlebury College

Carolyn Finney, PhD is a storyteller, author and a cultural geographer who is deeply interested in issues related to identity, difference, creativity, and resilience. The aim

Carolyn Finney

of her work is to develop greater cultural competency within environmental organizations and institutions, challenge media outlets on their representation of difference, and increase awareness of how privilege shapes who gets to speak to environmental issues and determine policy and action. Carolyn is grounded in both artistic and intellectual ways of knowing – she pursed an acting career for eleven years, but five years of backpacking trips through Africa and Asia, and living in Nepal changed the course of her life. Motivated by these experiences, Carolyn returned to school after a 15-year absence to complete a B.A., M.A. (both of these degrees focused on gender and environmental issues in Kenya and Nepal, respectively) and Ph.D. (which focused on African Americans and environmental issues in the U.S.) She has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Canon National Parks Science Scholar and received a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Studies. Carolyn has worked with the media in various capacities including the Tavis Smiley Show, MSNBC, & Vice News Tonight; wrote Op-Eds for Outside Magazine & Newsweek; was a guest editor & contributor for a special section on Race & the National Parks in Orion Magazine; participated in a roundtable conversation with REI and The Atlantic; interviewed with various media outlets including NPR, Sierra Club, Boston Globe & National Geographic; and even filmed a commercial for Toyota that highlighted the importance of African Americans getting out into Nature. Along with public speaking, writing, consulting and teaching (she has held positions at Wellesley College, the University of California, Berkeley & the University of Kentucky), she served on the U.S. National Parks Advisory Board for eight years which assists the National Park Service in engaging in relations of reciprocity with diverse communities. Her first book, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors was released in 2014 (UNC Press).

Recent publications include “The Space Between the Words” (Harvard Design Journal Spring 2018), “A Thousand Oceans” (Geographical Research, Wiley Pub., Fall 2019) “This Moment” (River Rail: Occupy Colby Fall 2019), Self-Evident: Reflections on the Invisibility of Black Bodies in Environmental Histories (BESIDE Magazine, Montreal Spring 2020),”The Perils of Being Black in Public: We are all Christian Cooper and George Floyd (The Guardian, June 3rd 2020) and “Who Gets Left Out of the Great Outdoors Story?” (The NY Times November 4 2021), She is currently working on a performance piece entitled The N Word: Nature Revisited as part of a Mellon residency at the New York Botanical Gardens. Along with being the new columnist at the Earth Island Journal, she was recently awarded the Alexander and Ilse Melamid Medal from the American Geographical Society and is an artist-in-residence and the Environmental Studies Professor of Practice in the Franklin Environmental Center at Middlebury College.

Pending Title: Well-Being and Community Engagement*

*(This session will include a guided meditation along with the lecture.)

3:40 – 5:25 p.m. | March 8 | Regency Room, Anderson University Center

Bonnie Duran, Professor Emerita, Schools of Social Work and Public Health, University of Washington

Bonnie Duran photo

Bonnie Duran Dr.PH (mixed race Opelousas/Coushatta) is a Professor Emeritus in the Schools of Social Work and Public Health at the University of Washington, in Seattle and is on the leadership team at the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (http://health.iwri.org ). She received her Dr.PH from UC Berkeley School of Public Health in 1997. Bonnie teaches graduate courses in Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR), and Mindfulness. She has worked in public health research, evaluation and education among Tribes, Native Organizations and other communities of color for over 35 years.

Dr. Duran was the Principal Investigator of 2 NIH-funded research projects in “Indian Country.” Working with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, 22 Tribal Colleges, and UW collaborators, she is conducting 2 studies: (a) a psychiatric epidemiology prevalence and correlates study (N=3,202, and (b) a TCU-cultural adaptation of Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS). Dr. Duran has also been Co-PI of an NIMH-funded R25 HIV and Mental Health research training program and a Co-Investigator on an NINR CBPR methods and measures study: Engage for Equity. 

Bonnie’s past work includes partnering with the Navajo Nation, Indian Health Service, the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center, and other Tribes and Indigenous Community Based Organizations on projects aimed at health equity, improving health services, and developing culture-centered health promotion.

The overall aims of Dr. Duran’s research are to work in partnership with communities to design health access and prevention efforts that are empowering, culture-centered, accessible, sustainable, and that have maximum public health impact. She has many publications, including articles in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, and books. Dr. Duran is an Editor of the 2018 Community-Based Participatory Research for Health: Advancing Social and Health Equity, 3rd Edition. Wiley.

Bonnie Duran is also a Buddhist mindfulness practitioner and teacher. She teaches long and short mindfulness retreats and advanced programs at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS dharma.org) in Massachusetts and at Spirit Rock Meditation Center (SRMC Spiritrock.org) in California. She is on the Spirit Rock Guiding Teachers Council. 


The Science of Happiness

7:00 p.m. | March 8 | Regency Room, Anderson University Center

Meik Wiking, Founder and CEO, The Happiness Research Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark

Meik is a research associate for the World Database of Happiness, member of the Advisory committee to the Global Happiness Policy Report and Founder of The Happiness Museum in Copenhagen. In addition, he is a New York Times best-selling author and has been translated into 38 languages – and has been called the happiest man in the world by The Times.

Meik Wiking

The Little Book of Hygge, The Little Book of Lykke, The Art of Making Memories, My Hygge Home

@MeikWiking on most platforms
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/meikwiking/?hl=en

Panels | Workshop | Debate

The Matter of Loneliness: Perspectives from the Disciplines and Community Practitioners

9:55 – 11:40 a.m. | March 7 | Chris Knutzen Hall, Anderson University Center

Michael Artime,  Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science, PLU

Dr. Artime has a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and is interested in the intersections between new media and political behavior, voting and elections, and the institutions of American government. He lives in Tacoma, WA.

Michael Artime

Elizabeth Barton, Associate Director for Training, Licensed Psychologist

Dr. Barton is a licensed psychologist in the state of Washington. She  received her BA in Psychology from Concordia University-Portland, her MA and PhD in Clinical

Elizabeth Barton

Psychology from Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, and an MA in Theology from Fuller Seminary.  While she has worked in a variety of mental health settings, doing wellbeing work with college students and investing in the development, training, and mentoring of the next generation of deeply human and present clinicians have been her passions.  Dr. Barton has served in university counseling centers at Fuller Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, Central Washington University, and Pacific Lutheran University, with the last 18 years at PLU. From 2020-2023, Lizz served as Director of the PLU Counseling Center (now Counseling Services at Wellbeing Services and Resources) – navigating the unprecedented changes, challenges, and opportunities of the COVID pandemic. In addition to her work with PLU, Dr. Barton puts her belief in the importance of community engagement and intentionally building relationships into practice serving on Westside HEY (Healthy Empowered Youth) Coalition in Seattle, teaching courses in her faith community, and being an active member of the Family Equity Committees in her kids’ schools.

Eric Jacobsen, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church

Rev. Eric O Jacobsen is the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church (ECO) in Tacoma, WA. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the relationship between the built environment and the Christian faith. His published works include Three Pieces of Glass: Why We Feel Lonely in a World Mediated by Screens (Brazos Press 2020); The Space Between: A Christian Engagement with the Built Environment (Baker Academic, 2012); and Sidewalks in the Kingdom: New Urbanism and the Christian Faith (Brazos Press , 2007). Rev. Jacobsen holds a PhD in Theology and Culture from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Eric Jacobsen

Julie Smith, Professor of Biology


Julie Smith

Amy Young, Professor of Communication

Dr. Anna Marjorie “Amy” Young is originally from Bellevue, Washington where she graduated from Bellevue High School. She attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, earning a B.A. in Communication Studies. Upon graduation, she worked for IBM as a Client Representative, managing executive relationships and consulting on technology and business decisions with clients in the public sector in Tennessee.

Amy Young

In 2001, she began the Master’s program in Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, earning her M.A. in 2003. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007. In Fall, 2007, Amy joined the faculty of Pacific Lutheran University.

Dr. Young’s scholarship pursues questions of rhetorical style, expertise and engagement in the public sphere. She lies awake at night fretting about the state of our public discourse and uses her scholarship to enable colleagues and students to claim or reclaim their roles as public agents and citizens. She is a member of the National Communication Association and the Rhetoric Society of America.

Dr. Young’s work explores questions of style and public engagement. Her most recent book, Prophets, Gurus & Pundits: Rhetorical Styles & Public Engagement (Southern Illinois University Press) is available on Amazon. Her work appears in a variety of journals and books including the Quarterly Journal of Speech and Communication & Critical/Cultural Studies. Her edited book on academic motherhood will be out later this year.

Introduction and Moderator

Rev. Jen Rude, University Pastor

Rev. Jen Rude

PLU Alumni Panel: Loneliness from the Field of Mental Health

11:50 a.m. – 1:35 p.m. | March 7 | Chris Knutzen Hall, Anderson University Center

Yesenia Arellano ’13, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Cultivating Resilience Counseling

Yesenia’s approach is rooted in empathy, human rights, and social justice with an influence of personal experiences such as being an immigrant, bi-lingual, and a parent. Her mission is supporting culturally diverse populations with an emphasis on the Hispanic/Latin@ community, access mental health resources and challenge mental health stigma.

Yesenia Arellano

She holds two bachelor’s degrees from PLU and a master’s degree from Seattle University. Yesenia has held numerous career responsibilities in organizations focusing on social justice and strengthening communities.

Yesenia remains active in her community volunteering her time supporting organizations that cater to diverse populations access educational and professional development opportunities. She takes pride in remaining a trusted mental health advocate by various client-service organizations throughout Pierce County. She strives to educate others about the importance of mental health and highlighting resources that promote mental health wellness.

Salomé Valencia Bohné ’10, MA, MSW, LSWAIC, Licensed Counselor, The Rivers Wellness & Advocacy Foundation: Mental Health

Salomé Valencia Bohné, MA, MSW, LSWAIC, is a licensed counselor in the state of Washington. She is a Latina who uses she/her/ella pronouns. Salomé graduated from PLU in 2010 with a degree in Psychology and is currently working at The Rivers Wellness & Advocacy Foundation: Mental Health in Seattle, WA. Her practice includes evidence based interventions along with experimental therapy, humor, and her geeky knowledge of psychology pop trivia. She is currently in the process of earning her clinical independent license (LICSW).

Salomé Valencia Bohné

Jen Fadden ’12, Associate Director for Clinical Operations, Counselor, PLU


Jen Fadden graduated from the PLU MFT program in 2012, and has recently returned to PLU to work in Wellbeing Services and Resources. Jen has over 12 years of experience as a therapist, along with an extensive professional history within the social work and social justice field.  She has guided many people throughout the years, and considers it her calling to be present for those who need support through this grand adventure called LIFE!

Photo of Jen Fadden

Ashely Hill ’15, MSW, Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, Wind and Willows Therapy Services


Ashely Hill is a licensed clinical social worker operating out of Tacoma, Washington. She received her bachelors degree in social work from Pacific Lutheran University and her masters degree in social work from University of Southern California. She currently works at Western State Hospital specializing in forensic psychiatric social work, and maintains a private therapy practice in addition to her hospital work. Ashely’s patient population at the hospital include patients who have been opined incompetent to stand trial for felony offenses, as well as patients who have stood trial and been adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity. Her private practice clientele largely consist of young women and nonbinary individuals of color who struggle with anxiety, depression, trauma, and navigating complex family dynamics. Although these populations seem vastly different, there are many common threads among these clients, to include loneliness, self-doubt, low self-worth, as well as the potential to thrive.

photo of Ashely Hill '15

Blue Zones Parkland-Spanaway Purpose Workshop

8:45 – 10:30 a.m. | March 8 | Chris Knutzen East, Anderson University Center

Workshop Focus: Discover how your gifts, passions, and values come together to create meaning and purpose

Joseph Gomez, Engagement and Marketing Lead, Blue Zones Parkland-Spanaway

Tammy Jones, Project Manager & Office Coordinator, Blue Zones Parkland-Spanaway

Blue Zones Project logo


The Blue Zones Project Purpose Workshop is a just under two-hour event led by a certified facilitator that helps individuals find clarity of purpose. It is designed to assist in the discovery or rediscovery of an individual’s gifts, values, and passions. This workshop aims to help participants understand their purpose in life and align their actions with their values, which has been shown to lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

PLU Alumni Panel: Loneliness from the Perspective of Community Organizing

11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. | March 8 | Scandinavian Cultural Center, Anderson University Center

Eric Buley ’10, Vice President, Mary’s Place, Seattle, WA


Eric Buley is a social services professional with 15 years of diverse experience in the U.S. and globally, including in Venezuela, South Africa, and Jordan. His career has spanned child and youth development, public education (encompassing Head Start/Early Head Start, K-12, and higher ed), public health, affordable housing, and homelessness services.

Currently, Eric is the Vice President of Program Services at Mary’s Place, a leading provider of family homelessness services in King County. He oversees seven departments, including youth services, street outreach, medical and behavioral health, economic empowerment, homeless prevention, housing navigation, and the King County Family Emergency Shelter Intake Line. Eric also serves as Board President of ROOTS Young Adult Shelter, the state’s largest emergency shelter for young adults living unhoused.

At PLU, Eric double majored in Political Science and Hispanic & Latino Studies. He is a Fulbright Scholar, an AmeriCorps alum, and also holds an MPA and a Certificate of Nonprofit Management from the University of Washington. In his free time, Eric plays in Seattle’s LGBTQIA+ soccer league and enjoys being in the mountains.

photo of Eric Buley

Katie Garrow ’11, Executive Secretary-Treasurer (Executive Director), MLK Labor, AFL-CIO

Katie Garrow was elected to serve as Executive Secretary-Treasurer (Executive Director) of MLK Labor, AFL-CIO in September 2021. Garrow is the youngest person and only the second woman to hold this office in MLK Labor’s 135 year history. MLK Labor is the largest labor organization in King County, representing 150,000 workers in more than 150 unions.

Katie Garrow

Katie got her start in the labor movement by organizing domestic workers and day laborers through a hiring hall in the San Francisco Bay Area. She went on to represent public sector workers at the City of Seattle at Protec 17, before joining the staff at MLK Labor in 2016.

At MLK Labor, Katie’s focus has included a very successful push to grow labor’s political power beyond Seattle and into South King County where union members make up as much as 40% of the electorate. She worked to elect more than 50 union members as mayors, city council members, and school board directors in Seattle and South King County. She has also led the Labor Council’s work around climate change and workforce development, fighting to secure working people’s place in a new, clean energy economy.

Garrow was born into a working-class family in Grays Harbor County in WA, where her father was a union boilermaker and her mother worked in rural economic development. She witnessed firsthand the decline of logging towns like hers in the area. Consequently, she is rooted in the plight of the rural working class but is also passionately devoted to making the labor movement relevant and representative of women, people of color, and LGBTQ workers who have been left out and excluded from our unions and American prosperity. Katie earned a BA in Spanish Literature and Global Studies from Pacific Lutheran University. She lives in Federal Way with her husband and two stepchildren.

Saiyare Refaei ’14 (they/them/she/her), Artist and Community Activist

A Chinese Iranian artist based in the traditional lands of the Puyallup people (Tacoma, Washington). Saiyare graduated from PLU in 2014 with a BA in Environmental Studies with minors in Anthropology, Hispanic Studies and Studio Arts. Their mediums mostly include community murals, printmaking, digital drawings and poetry. They enjoy working collaboratively and being a conduit to visualize the stories that need to be told in our communities.

Saiyare Rafaei

They are a member of Justseeds Artist Cooperative and strive to utilize art as a means of community building, education and healing. You can find more of their art on Instagram at @_saikick_ or at http://justseeds.org/artist/saiyarerefaei/ Saiyare is a program manager for the Harvest Pierce County program at the Pierce Conservation District. They also organize with La Resistencia to end immigrant detention and deportation in Tacoma.

Press links:
Artists Among Us: Saiyare Refaei’s work lives at the intersection of art and activism | KNKX Public Radio
Art that weaves a community together | Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center
Saiyare Refaei uplifts AAANHPI community with new artwork at Fred Hutch – International Examiner (iexaminer.org)
Visual Artist for issue 6.2 INTERVIEW WITH SAIYARE REFAEI ARTIST & ACTIVIST — Collateral Journal
Meet this year’s Bridge artist—Saiyare Refaei – School’s Out Washington (schoolsoutwashington.org)
Saiyare Refaei: Part Iranian, part Chinese, all community (nwasianweekly.com)

Introduction and Moderator


Joel Zylstra, Public Information Officer, Franklin Pierce Schools

Braver Angels Community Debate

1:45 – 3:30 p.m. | March 8 | Chris Knutzen Hall, Anderson University Center

Is everyone entitled to a Universal Basic Income?

Hosted and facilitated by PLU’s Associated Students of PLU (ASPLU) and College Debates and Discourse Alliance, and open to all students, faculty and community members, this session invites participants to a lively conversation about guaranteed basic income. Among the topics that will be covered is the City of Tacoma’s pilot guaranteed basic income program (Growing Resilience in Tacoma, or GRIT), the philosophical basis of basic income, what a guaranteed income could mean for our economy and our communities, and anything else that might present itself in conversation. All perspectives are welcome and valuable in this first-of-a-kind event for PLU and the surrounding community!

Debate facilitators:
Jennifer Keohane, Associate Professor in the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences, University of Baltimore
Doug Sprie, Director of College Partnerships and Multimedia, American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA)
Sadie Webb, Program Manager, College Debates and Discourse Alliance

For more information on the Braver Angels and College Debates and Discourse Alliance organizations:


For more information on the Tacoma Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot initiated by Tacoma’s Mayor Woodards:

Growing Resilience In Tacoma
Mayors for a Guaranteed Income
Guaranteed income pilot data from around the country