Embracing the Awkward with Michael Verde | Episode 134
NOVEMBER 28, 2017
EPISODE 134 | NOVEMBER 28, 2017
To be or not to be ... awkward. If that is not the question, it is certainly the risk we run when we scrap tired scripts, initiate novel directions, and otherwise forsake the familiar for the imaginable. We might say that awkward is the price we pay for insisting that there must be more. Michael Verde insists that when it comes to communicating with people with dementia that there is more—much more than we currently accept is possible—and that if we were less afraid of awkward millions of people would not die of excruciating loneliness. The organization he founded, Memory Bridge, leads people from around the world across what he calls the Valley of Awkward to new forms of intimacy with people we seem determined to cure but less so to touch, or to be touched by: people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Meeting people who disturb us, he says, with or without dementia, is to come face to face with what disturbs us about the human condition itself, including our own humanity. Benjamin joins Michael in a conversation about the awkward in the Valley and the more on the other side.
Michael Verde grew up in east Texas, where he played football, went to church, raised show pigs, and read so much it alarmed his high school counselor. He earned a M.A. in literary studies from the University of Iowa, and a M.A. in theology from the University of Durham, England, where he graduated at the top of his international class.
In 2003, Michael founded Memory Bridge (memorybridge.org). To date, Memory Bridge has connected over 8,000 people with and without dementia to each other in one-to-one relationships
Michael speaks across the world on the subjects of literature, world religions, and communicating with people with dementia. He is currently pursuing a PhD in the area of empathetic education at Indiana University.