TOGETHER by AGCI

Together by AGCI is a brand new podcast from the creative team at All God’s Children International.

        

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Episode 17

Celebrating Now

[MS] You’re listening to Together by AGCI, I’m Madi Salvati. 

[DA] And I’m Dayn Arnold. 

[DA] We nailed it. That was perfect.

[MS] Woo!

[DA] It’s a good start. 

[MS] Great start. 

[DA] Okay. Well, I should have just started instead of celebrating.

[MS] It’s okay. This could be part of it too. 

[DA] Yeah, actually we’re, we are celebrated like this whole podcast is about celebration, so there we go. 

[MS] Perfect.

[DA] Um, yeah, we, this week we wanted to try something a little bit different. We’re going to do a live recording. Hello, Madi. 

[MS] Hi Dayn. 

[DA] This is, this is happening in real time. Instead of us sending files back and forth like usual, which is really fun. 

[MS] Really refreshing. 

[DA] It’s a nice change of pace. Um, so today we wanted to, uh, just take some time to kind of reflect back on our last 16 episodes. 17, if you count this one. Um, and really think about, like, what are the things that we can celebrate in our first season and, um, maybe even what are some of the things that we can celebrate about AGCI um, what are some of the things that have . . . You know, this is, 2020 is kind of a funny year for celebrating seems, like, seems like celebrating is hard to come by. So that’s what we’re going to do. We are going to just celebrate the small victories that we can claim, um, in the podcast and in AGCI and all of those things. Um, and then we’re going to talk about what we want to see next, or what you want to see next, what all of us want to see next. Uh, but before we talk about all of those things, I want to check in with Madi. Madi, how have you been lately? 

[MS] I’ve been doing well. Things have been, I mean, to be transparent, a little chaotic around here, but still loving and hopping on and getting to do this podcast every week and, yeah, really just feeling a lot of purpose and intentionality recently just with. not only my job, but with this show as well. Um, yeah, but other than that, I, I started grad school in the next couple of weeks, which is super exciting. I am still wrapping my brain around how I’m going to make that all happen, but it’s a good excitement. It’s a good feeling of being a little in over my head, but, um, I think it’s definitely what I need right now. And just, um, with the current state of the world, I think I was left feeling, I guess, asking myself, like, what can I do to keep helping? Like, what, where am I needed, I guess. And going back to school, it seems like the first best in addressing that question. And, yeah, that’s pretty much been all I’ve been thinking about recently. Um, and just prepping for that. 

[MS] How about you, Dayn? What’cha got going on? 

[DA] Oh man, we, well, I mentioned what, like we had an episode where we talked about some of  the things that have been going in our own lives and how COVID has changed those. And at that stage, I was about to move across the country in a motorhome and we did. And we made it, and it was reasonably uneventful aside from three days of cross breezes while you’re trying to drive a giant sail. And, and so my arms were like, my hands, my hands would cramp up at night because I had been holding the steering wheel, like a 45 degree angle for hours on end. Also, I apparently have very weak hands because I probably should have been able to handle that. But, um, yeah, so we’re, we’re kind of adjusting to living in a new place and my wife’s family is here, so it’s been really nice to spend a lot more time with them and, um, yeah, just kind of, you know, big life transitions. It seems like we like to do those every few years or so.

[MS] It would appear so. 

[DA] Got to keep things moving. 

[MS] Throw in a pandemic on top of that, you know, got a nice, nice recipe there for something to change. 

[DA] Yeah. Honestly like it, it probably would have been better if, if, um, like it would have been a more interesting story to tell if more terrible things had happened, but it was, it was uneventful and therefore not, not really, uh, not really super shareable. We’ve talked about, um, what are some  of the AGCI milestones that we’ve, that we’ve hit as a, as a larger organization, not just the podcast. Um, you know, we were surviving COVID,

[MS] Making it through.

[DA]  Which is kind of a big deal cause there’s a lot of, you know, th th there are businesses that are suffering and failing. There are nonprofits that are suffering and failing, and, you know, I don’t know that we can claim all the credit in the world or that we can claim all the blessing in the world. And yet here we are. Um, and that’s, it’s pretty amazing. And, and even to see, you know, there actually are like legit milestones that are happening right now. We have our, you know, our, our sponsorships that we do in Ethiopia that are, um, education sponsorships, and they help the whole family. And they’re, they’re up to, they’re up to 600 sponsorships now, but it’s, what was it? It was like 500 only like a month or two ago. Not that long ago,

[MS] Yeah, it was fast, like just watching it grow. It was pretty amazing.

[DA] It’s really ramped up and that’s, you know, a testament to a lot of our teammates doing a lot of hard work, but also just, you know, the Lord is just doing crazy things in a crazy time. So I guess when we have to fully rely on him, then he can do his best, his best stuff. 

[MS] Yeah. And I feel like as a team also just like with the marketing team in general, we’ve, it’s, it’s amazing to think a pandemic has been happening during this whole time. Um, but it’s also, you know, on one hand it feels restrictive with how we’ve had to function and working from home, even in some ways has been tough to adjust to. I think just for the nature of what we need to do, where that’s, you know, getting video or photo of certain things and having that not be an option, I think has really forced us to be more creative in our storytelling approaches and how we collaborate with others, and how we just function as a marketing team too. I think it’s been so incredible to watch. And I just, yeah, I feel really proud to like, be a part of it. And this podcast too, I think just was part of that new creativity that we had to come up with and how we were going to do it. Um, so yeah, I think that’s just been another major part and for all of our departments too, just watching everybody pivot majorly and figure out how we were going to keep functioning, how we were going to keep facilitating adoptions and sponsorships, and advocating for these kiddos, the whole nine yards. I think it’s just been really amazing to witness as well. 

[DA] Yeah, it’s, it’s been, you know, from, from my seat on the bus, um, you know, typically I’m doing video I’m, I’m traveling internationally and I’m capturing video of, um, stories or of kids that need families. And, you know, we use those resources to kind of create ways of communicating to our larger audience that help them to understand the work and the need and all those things. Um, and so to have to be like, okay, well, we still want to be able to tell those kinds of stories, but how do we do that when we can’t physically go? And then even when, you know, like in Colombia, we have, we have people, I know people that can shoot video for us, but like, nobody’s able to move at the moment. So, how do we even do that? And it’s just been, it’s been a challenge, but really amazing to kind of see it all come together. We’ve got this, um, series that we’re calling, “Waiting” that’s up right now. Um, and, uh, you can find it on the, the AGCI website, if you go to allgodschildren.org/waiting. Um, but pretty much the whole, well, I would say about two thirds of it was shot on phones, which is . . . 

[MS] Awesome.

[DA] It just makes me cringe, but, but it works like it, it’s . . . and honestly, it’s some of the, some of the most, I guess, like emotionally present stuff that we’ve done and it’s, and it’s because, because I had to get out of the way. So that’s a, you know, that’s humbling. And, uh, and it’s also just, you know, of course the  Lord does it that way. Like, of course he, he brings out really rich and, and challenging storytelling when we have to do it differently and can’t do it in the way that, you know, my poor little brain can only think in one direction. So anyway, from my end, I’m just like, Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that we’re actually doing stuff right now. It’s, it’s pretty, it’s pretty unreal. 

[MS] Yeah. I think of that too, just in terms of, like, where I stand. I mean, I think the podcast has honestly just been one of the biggest projects I’ve helped take on and put forth in doing that, like in the midst of what’s going on. It just like, it was so not like, in the best way, like what I pictured happening. Um, I mean, I was a journalism major in college and like, in that point, like I was going to interviews, going to see people, going to events, going to record things. And when I had that goal in mind at the podcast, like, that’s kind of just what I thought it would turn out to be, um, like going to people, um, you know, having them feel comfortable in their environment and getting to interview them that way. And I don’t know, like I just, I had this other vision that I didn’t even really, like, I guess, put forth into words, but just assumed it would be that way. And then, you  know, the reality strikes and I’m sitting in my closet recording this podcast, um, and trying to get the mic to be level and checking to make sure my roommates aren’t being super noisy downstairs and I have a cat, and that’s just, like, all of life. I felt like it’s just, it makes it so much more authentic though in that way, that to me, it was like something to celebrate with this podcast. And just with all of our projects, like just the authenticity that I think has come forth through us having to do it differently. Um, and not in a way that maybe we’ve been very comfortable with. Like, I think it’s just helped us put out a whole different realm of content and work. 

[DA] Totally. And, and I also think that, um, for me, there’s, I dunno, like when you have, when you have a full work day and then I have small kids, and so there’s just not a lot of time to kind of process all the things are happening in the world, you know, and it’s, it’s everything all at once, right? Like it’s not just, it’s not like 2020 is the year known for this one thing, it’s known for everything all at once. And, and for me, the podcast has been an opportunity to process in a way that I don’t know that I would have taken the time to do it ordinarily, or at least not in the same  way. Where, you know, if we were, we’re doing a more challenging interview and then the, the being able to take the time to kind of really think through, like, what, what is this when you distill it down? Like what, what are we experiencing? And, and so it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s actually oddly therapeutic for me. Um, and that, like, I’ve always enjoyed creative writing, but I haven’t done it in 10 or 12 years. I mean, it’s been a long time. And so to have an opportunity where it, it’s, it’s kind of part of what we do is to think, and to react and to, uh, try and, uh, distill our experience and the experience of those around us down into something that’s digestible is, like it’s, it’s been really good for me, like on a super selfish level, this podcast has been awesome. 

[MS] No, I’m right there with you. I think just like thinking about everything that’s happened in the last couple of months, especially like, um, getting to talk to Gina and Tiffany from Be the Bridge about, um, transracial adoption and having those hard conversations too, with Amanda Purvis, from Karen Purvis Institute, um, and just addressing like, and being upfront with what’s going on in the world. Um, I think it’s helped us discover as a team, like the areas that we obviously need to be doing better with, um, the whole movement of black lives matter and all of that. And just long overdue changes that I think, from my personal standpoint, like hearing what they all had to say, was a way for me to process and get another perspective as well on how I, as an individual can be helping, as us as a marketing team can be doing the same. Um, yeah. And I think it was just so motivating to you to, like, hear their stories. And I just, that was not a part of the podcast I was, I could have ever imagined was getting that perspective ever. And just being allowed, even the opportunity to pause and reflect and be intentional with how we go forward with telling these stories as well. 

[DA] Yeah, totally. And it’s been fun, you know, it’s been fun as well. You know, I, these aren’t necessarily, I think they are highlights know, I wouldn’t, it wouldn’t put it on like my big list of highlights of 2020, but at the same time, like just creating something new and having to just, just doing it, not, you know, we, we, before we put the podcast out, we, we put plenty of time into thinking about like, what do we want it to actually be like, and you can spend so much time in those conversations that it, it remains kind of theoretical. It remains in your head or maybe on paper, but it doesn’t become a real thing until you just start doing it. And that’s how you learn and you grow is by just like, get that ship in motion and then you can actually stare at, um, and that’s, yeah, it’s, it’s been really awesome. And, and to be able to do it essentially as like a team of two, and it’s not like this is our only responsibility to, uh, not to whine or complain about it, but just to say, like, we, we have aspirations to, to have a podcast that is thoughtful and is, um, you know, is, is a blessing to the people listening. Um, all the while we’re, you know, devoting a relatively small portion of our time to making it happen. And, you know, by the grace of God, here we are at episode 17. So that’s amazing and quick shout out to our friend, Alan, who has been helping us with, um, EQ and helping things sound nicer more lately. So thanks Allen. But, um, yeah. Yeah, it’s been fun.

[MS] Yeah. I know too, just like, there was such a learning curve for me and not to like, undermine like the work that we’ve been doing, but like I just felt so, I mean, I thought I knew what it was like to like produce a podcast, in theory, 

[DA] Yeah, it’s not your first time. 

[MS] But I also, actually, from start to finish, you record it yourself, you help write the scripts, you transcribe. There’s so many steps to the process that like, thinking about the whole big picture, I’m like, that takes more than just, you  know, an hour in your day. There was so much more to that than I initially had thought. And I think getting used to all of the software and luckily like having you, too, Dayn that, like, just knew could help me, like, get there was so awesome. But, um, I guess it hasn’t totally felt, like, we were a team of two in some funny way. Like, I feel like there’s more work going then a team of two could put out, plus Alan. Like, I just, it feels like there’s been more behind that. And also just like, without the rate that we’ve been able to, to push forward with, it has been really awesome, as well. 

[DA] Yeah. And that’s, that’s, that’s one of the reasons that we wanted to record this episode was just to kind of take a chance to reflect and think about what this season has been like. And essentially, you know, start having seasons where we kind of take a little bit of a, a pause. Um, just we, this, this year for everybody has been about pivoting, has been about adjusting, has been about trying to just, you know, keep our heads above water. And, and what we want to do is, is almost have, uh, a Sabbath-moment for this podcast.

[MS] I love that.

[DA] It’s just to take that, that day of rest. It’ll be more than one day, but, but taking that, that time of rest to regroup, recenter, reevaluate, and, and hopefully come back, you know, stronger on the other side. I feel like we’ve been able to kind of figure out some of the technical sides of things. We’ve really began to have an understanding of what, what does this podcast sound like and how does it fit into the world of AGCI and how does it fit into our world at large? And what are the kinds of stories that we can tell? And, and, uh, but we want to do it really well. We don’t want to just kind of keep treading water to keep pushing out content, but we want to make sure that we’re, we’re honoring all of you, listeners. Um, and that we’re, we’re just doing our very best to bring you engaging and interesting stories that, you know, can, can bring a new perspective to you or can help you appreciate someone differently. Or can educate you or whatever it is. It’s just, um, it’s a, it’s a really, it’s a really big responsibility and we want to take that seriously. 

[MS] Yeah, we definitely don’t take that lightly. I’d say with all of this, I think it’s just been, um, so important to, like, to pause, like we are now into just again, be intentional moving forward. Um, and I think it’ll just be so much more to come with that to you on the other side of it. And I know we’ll be so grateful, like looking back at this time of like, wow, like we got, we were able to do that many stories or come up with that much more to contribute having this time to pause, as well. 

[DA] Yeah, for sure. You know, we, we want to, we want to be making sure that we continue with the, the kind of the direction and the trajectory that we have inherited in this season. Like we, I think that we’re, we’re both pretty painfully aware that we’re both very white and, um, and so in, in a time where we want to be amplifying the voices of people of color and indigenous peoples, like we, we wanna, we want to acknowledge that we’re white and that there is a lot more that we can do to bring in those voices. And that diversity of perspective is, is vital for us. And, you know, even, even beyond that, just like we, we only know as much as we know, and, and, and for us to make sure that we continue to have just a diverse lineup of people that, that are influencing our thoughts, and are influencing our understanding of our world is going to be really vital moving forward. So that’s definitely something that we, we are striving for. Um, and, and actually, honestly, we, we, we want to hear more from you all as an audience. If, if you guys have a subject matter or, or topics that you feel like we should be covering or things that you feel like we’re missing. Like, we, we honestly want to hear that from all of you. We have had, you know, we have the occasional email from someone that gives us a little suggestion or a point or a tip. Um, but we, we, you want that, we need that to make sure that we can kind of stay on target and, and make sure that we’re not just kind of, you know, head down doing what we think we’re supposed to be doing. Um, but it really does take kind of that, that community, uh, the, the community at large, to really help us to be able to kind of have more balanced voice moving forward. 

[MS] For sure. And I think for this to continue to be a resource of some kind is also the goal, like making this something that, um, you know, our audience can refer back to that you might think of an episode one day, Oh yeah, I heard this, um, on Together by AGCI and they talked about transracial adoption, or they talked about X, Y, and Z. And I think keeping in mind that like, this is not only for a place of reflection and hearing incredibly beautiful and hard stories, but also a place to be educated, um, while listening to the voices that need to be amplified, which going forward, hopefully aren’t ours. Um, but are, are coming from that more, um, like Dayn was saying just a diverse lineup ahead. Um, we’re really looking forward to that and sharing that with you all.

[DA] Yeah. We have, we have some things coming up, even the next couple of weeks that are pretty exciting and that we’re, we’re pretty excited to be able to share with you guys. And, you know, we, we’ve been talking for a bit already, but we do have actual milestones, things that we can celebrate as, as a podcast. We have, I think the last time we checked, it was 3,109 downloads, which, you know, everybody and their dog has a podcast, but for us to feel like we have some people that are interested in the kinds of things that AGCI is interested in, and that we as hosts are interested in is awesome. It’s awesome to have, you know, a couple of hundred people that like to engage with what we’re doing each time and you, a new podcast comes out. And, and, and really in order for us to continue to grow that number, um, you know, as, as cheesy as it sounds to, uh, make sure that you’re subscribing and rate and review and all those things, but like, those are, those are helpful. Cause we want to expand our reach and, and hopefully the next time we are able to share some milestones and excited things. That number can be, you know, at least one bigger. 

[MS] Yeah, definitely. We will be back on September 24th with new episodes or one new episode. You can keep a lookout for that ahead. Yeah. We’re just so excited to keep pushing forward in this together and just keep being reminded of why we started this in the first place. I think there’s so many reasons why, but ultimately just, just by the nature of the title of the podcast, we are in this together and we want you guys to know that we’re here for you too. And no one has to be alone just with everything going on in the world, we’re in this together. And I’m excited to keep being reminded of that going forward. 

[DA] Yeah. You guys have, have made a difference in our lives and hopefully we can make a difference in yours. Um, so thanks for staying tuned for listening to us, uh, share a little bit about where we’re at and, um, we look forward to sharing the next episode of Together by AGCI in about a month. 

[MS] Yeah. Thanks everybody. We’ll talk to y’all soon. 

[DA] We’ll talk to you soon!