Author Interview with Frances Moore Lappé
Frances Moore Lappé’s new report “Crisis Of Trust: How Can Democracies Protect Against Dangerous Lies,” highlights truths about how shockingly low America ranks internationally—in health, education, trust in government and happiness, as well as in many other critical measures of wellbeing. Through compelling stories and meticulous research, she delves into the experiences of individuals living in countries achieving higher levels of well-being, offering insights into their successes.
With an impressive body of work including 20 books, Frances Moore Lappé has become a major voice in the realm of "living democracy." Her writings go beyond political discourse, emphasizing the importance of a government that is accountable to its citizens, as well as a way of life that addresses our fundamental human needs for connection, meaning, and empowerment. Recognized for her contributions, Lappé has been honored with 20 honorary doctorates, including one from Indiana University in 2021.
Join us as we engage in a thoughtful conversation with Frances Moore Lappé, as she delves into the themes and ideas presented in "Crisis of Trust." Gain a deeper understanding of the complex dynamics impacting democracies and explore potential paths toward a more resilient and inclusive society.
Can you tell us a bit about the Small Planet Institute?
We are a think-and-action tank, not simply a think tank. With my daughter Anna Lappé, I co-founded the organization in 2001. Anna and I had traveled the world writing Hope’s Edge, and from that experience I knew I wanted to continue learning and sharing. So Small Planet Institute became my vehicle.
What would you describe as its primary goals?
We seek to identify root causes of today’s multiple crises and help others (and ourselves!) discover meaningful actions to address them. Long ago I realized that I couldn’t just focus on “issues.” I also had to dig into underlying causes. Most important, I had to examine who is making decisions affecting all of us and what are their interests. I had to take on democracy itself—what is it, what are our democracy deficits, and what can we learn from others. So, while most of my books focus on food and the environment, they highlight the need for real democracy to solve the problems.
You’ve written a number of books, is there an overriding theme to your work?
My theme is that we humans have three overarching needs: for power, meaning, and connection in our lives. Only democracy can meet those needs. Therefore, democratic action is not a dull duty we carry out. Together, we can make it an exhilarating journey we create with others.
Is there an underlying message you want readers to take away from your works?
That they have power. While our planetary crises are dire, it is not too late to make changes that can both reduce the loss and suffering and promote life.
Tell us a bit about Crisis of Trust: How Can Democracies Protect Against Dangerous Lies?
My goal is to awaken readers to action that can address disinformation and safeguard democracy at the same time. Disinformation is a huge threat to democracy and thus to solving our mighty problems. I highlight countries—in particular, New Zealand—showing us that it is possible to protect freedom of speech and democracy at the same time.
Are there other projects you’re currently working on?
Yes, I am very excited to be completing a book entitled Hidden Hope. It corrects the false idea that our country is superior. Getting an accurate, although shocking, grasp of how low the U.S. ranks on a wide range of issues—from democracy to health care and education— is essential for national progress. Plus, I do share the good news about how many other countries are offering powerful lessons about what can work.
For more information on Frances please visit https://www.smallplanet.org/frances-moore-lappe