Coming Home w/ Pete Buttigieg – Full Transcript

Jacob Titus: Welcome to season two of Pod.SB. This is episode two. Episode one was just Dustin and I talking about how we ended up in this room together and kind of the theme for the season. So the theme for the season, Dustin, do you want to introduce that?

Dustin Mix: Yeah. So the theme is South Bend on Purpose. And so we talked a little bit about this in the first episode, but it comes from when we did our final showcase event for INVANTI, there was a woman that was in town named Molly Martin, who works for New America down in Indy. And she kind of went on a tweet storm saying like, this is really cool. There's all these people that are here and they're not like, they didn't just land here randomly, like they're here on purpose. And so Jake and I have been talking about this for like the last three months as a cool way to think about what's going on. And an inclusive way to think about what's going on because there's the people who have always been here and continue to choose to be here, as well as the people who move back here. And then those that are coming for the first time. But each of them kind of have a story of why they're doing it and it's not just random. So season two is about getting those stories out and talking to people about what drove them to be here and to continue to stay. Yeah.

Jacob Titus: So here for our first guest, we have Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Welcome to the show.

Pete Buttigieg: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Jacob Titus: Yeah! So we first want to talk about – we're interested in knowing the story of you thinking about coming back to South Bend. So I think the story is kind of well told of, you know, you grew up here, you were gone, went to school, did some work outside of South Bend, and then at some point you come back. So where were you when you were thinking about this? What was going through your mind? How were other people around you thinking about this decision?

Pete Buttigieg: Yeah. So I think, as I've shared before, I felt at the time I was growing up, we were getting a message that success had to do with getting out of South Bend. And I think I absorbed that message and it seemed very natural to me that when I was 18 I should go out and find a way to succeed. But I think almost the moment I was gone, I began to feel a little bit of a tug and I remember, you know it was the early days of webcams, so you could go on a TV news site and you could get a grainy, still, two inch image, and it would refresh every five minutes or so. But get up in the morning, I'd log on and see the sun rising over the golf course at Notre Dame or by the airport and just start thinking about that need to feel connected to home and maybe that was the first time it crossed my mind that I might actually have a future that involved coming back. But I actually went further and further away – I went to Arizona to work on a campaign, then I worked in Washington, then I went overseas for school.

But I think by the time I was overseas, I really had come to realize that Midwest culture also meant something to me. I didn't realize until I interacted closely with other Americans from other parts of the U.S. that I was Midwestern – like I had different expectations about how you talk to people you don't know, when to make eye contact, things like that that actually amounted to a cultural difference with other Americans. And then I felt that even more strongly of course when I was overseas. England has a way of reminding you about your culture, because you think you're from the same culture as people who speak the same language but they don't, it's a different country.

So all of those things kind of filled me with a greater sense of an interest in home. At the same time, you know, I had a certain amount of tension with my hometown. I think we all do on some level.

By the time I finished up at Oxford, which would have been 2007, I knew I wanted to at least get back in the neighborhood. And that's where a job opportunity in Chicago made it possible for me to come back. After a year living in Chicago, when I was a consultant and traveled all the time for work, I realized that my firm didn't care where I lived. My Monday morning commute wasn't to the office, it was to the airport. So I really could be just about anywhere and I couldn't help but notice that for about half of the price I was paying for a small apartment in Chicago. I could live like a king in South Bend.

So I was still professionally in Chicago, but personally at home. I moved back to the neighborhood I grew up in, rented a carriage house in back of a larger house. By then I knew that I needed to find some way to come back, that this was a place where there was a lot of promise, there was a lot of potential, there were a lot of things beginning to happen, or at least the hope of things beginning to happen. But then the question became how do I actually contribute around here?

Jacob Titus: Yeah, so I'm interested, when you were thinking about coming back and obviously you've missed this culture and these people, which is something, I don't know if you've found this, I hear that a lot from people who moved to South Bend or to places in the Midwest, that it's the culture of the people. That happens a lot. But you come back and you're talking about finding a way to contribute. Was that kind of front of mind when you're moving back? Or are you moving back thinking like, I want to be around this culture, this connection to place you know, I have my job that I'm going to continue to do remotely? Or were you thinking about that change and what you were doing for work?

Pete Buttigieg: I think was a little of both. I was finding ways to volunteer a little bit to help South Bend, so that kept me connected. I think we all bring what we can, so I brought kind of an unsexy skill which was being really good with Excel. So there was a project at the time to gather community input on budget decisions, actually very similar to the kind of thing we're working on right now. It involved this big survey, they need to decode all these results and there was this committee doing it and they needed you know, some guy who's good with with Excel. So I thought great, I can do that, can do it on the plane when I'm on my way to the client, I can do in my spare time.

So I found little ways like that to feel like I was making a difference. But the other part of it was just being around places that had a lot of meaning for me – being close to the park where I played all the time as a kid – and people who had a lot of meaning to me. Even though a great many people I went to high school with kind of had the same thought and many of them moved out, a few of them started to move back. And of course I had family here too. So there was a sense of home.

Everybody I think has some amount of tension between a sense of home and a sense of adventure. Adventure is about going out and going away and being someplace that's kind of alien. And home is about what is comfortable and what is familiar. What I found though, having grown up here and then been educated and partly formed somewhere else, was coming home was an adventure too. There were places I could go a mile from where I grew up that were unusual, challenging, maybe even uncomfortable, and that made the rediscovery of my hometown that much more exciting when I got home.

Dustin Mix: What was the reaction like, especially out of the office in Chicago and whether it was your supervisors or your peers and you saying, I'm gonna keep working here, but I'm going 90 miles to the east and I'm going to hang out in in South Bend for most of the time.

Pete Buttigieg: Yeah, I got some funny looks. I remember I was going to San Francisco a lot. I had, you know, as many friends there as here and I was at some party, beer in my hand, chatting with somebody I just met and said I was moving home to South Bend. She said, oh, was someone in your family ill? Like that was the only reason she could think of that I would go home. Like no, they're fine! I just want to go home. I just like the place. It's a little different than now, I think it was harder to explain yourself if you're going to an as-of-then then maybe un-hip city.

But as we know, more and more people have come to do that and I think come to be really glad that they did.

Jacob Titus: Do you feel like you knew South Bend when you're growing up? Obviously in a different way than you do now, but do you feel like you had a good understanding of different places in the city or what was going on?

Pete Buttigieg: I think I knew a flavor of South Bend. I knew my high school, I knew the neighborhood where I first lived, which is College Street, kind of Near North West or West Side, I knew the neighborhood where I lived after we moved, the rest of my years as a kid, which was more the North Shore area. I knew downtown because I would ride my bike down there. But there are a lot of things I didn't know at all. I didn't know a lot about the West Side. I didn't know much about, other than the big-name cultural things going on, like let's say the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, something like that. But I didn't know a lot about the art and culture scene that was around here. And the truth is, even in a city like South Bend, you're always discovering things. To this day, I will stumble on a group of people doing something interesting or a restaurant or a building. You lull yourself into thinking you know the entirety of a city when it's this size. And it's just impossible, even as mayor, I'm constantly being introduced to new things in our city, some of which are actually new and some of which I just Ssmehow hadn't crossed paths with before.

Jacob Titus: I was asking earlier are you thinking about kind of the shift in your work? You were talking about you know you're doing some volunteering, feeling like you're contributing. Where was this thought of I'm going to run for office? Or was that a thought at all?

Pete Buttigieg: Yeah, that came on gradually. It had crossed my mind at various times in my life and as a student, but as a student to be honest, when I was introduced to government, politics, public service, it was always in terms of national politics. It was always about either national or maybe foreign affairs. Nobody was talking about local. I didn't really realize how rich and interesting and complex local work really was. What finally propelled me to actually run for office was a very kind of local thing. It was a run for state treasurer, motivated by a controversy over whether to rescue the auto industry, which I thought was a really good idea. The state treasurer did not and tried to interfere with it. And so I mounted a campaign, partly because I just really cared about that issue, partly because I was beginning to realize by then that client service was not for me in the long run so I was working at a consulting firm – fantastic firm, very good at what they do, paid well, the travel was exciting. But I began to realize that I couldn't be motivated enough to put in those hours and to do that work if it was just for clients. If the only reason to care for something was that I was being paid to care about it. That just wouldn't work for me in the long run. And so I was looking for things to do that would be helpful and important.

I wonder to some extent, especially with what's going on in South Bend now, whether some people form their attachment to home based on the idea that this is a place where you can not only live but a place that you can shape. So obviously as a mayor, you can help shape a place in a lot of ways. But so many of the people that I meet whether they're in business or the arts, people who have moved here, people who have come home here, people who have grown up here, but had thick roots, whether the thing that really aligns them with the the fate of this city isn't just that it's pleasant. But that they understand that they have a role here. Because it's just different to be in a place than it is to be changing a place. I think it thickens your commitment to it. Ever since I moved home, I found myself, as we all did, in conversations about what's going on here. What's going on the city, could it be better, could it be faster, could it grow, were we really dying, you know, all those questions. And began to feel, once I had this experience of running for State Office, even though I lost big, but it kind of demystified it. So then I really understood what running for office was about. I understood or I felt that I understood what needed to happen in South Bend. Then those two factors met the third fact that the seat opened up and it became clear that I couldn't just sit around talking about this stuff, I'd actually do it.

Dustin Mix: Do you think the the other side of the ability to shape and have influence, I think being from Michigan and the Midwest myself, I think there's also something that as soon as you take that step and kind of get, oh this is cool that I can shape, immediately there's a feedback loop there where it almost becomes, it feels like a responsibility though too. Where it's like, okay, now that I kind of put myself out there in any way there's also a back side to that where it's like, yeah but now if things go wrong, I'm also responsible. I'm curious – because I think one Midwest thing from a value standpoint is to take ownership of things as well – I'm curious what that's been like in terms of, once you got back here and start, whether it's as simple as doing Excel spreadsheets for budget things or running for mayor, how that responsibility started to feel?

Pete Buttigieg: Yeah, I think we all develop over time or we grow a sense of which things are under our control. One thing about politics actually is a whole lot of it is not in your control. But the other thing you realize is some of the very things that we complain about or talk about or gripe about or joke about are also things that we're empowered to do something about. That's not only for people who run for office. In a city our size, anybody who decides to participate in a public process, be involved with a council process or a committee hearing, and that's just the government side, that piece. But I think it's also a very natural instinct to, you know – and part of growing up right is realizing that you can make things and you can do things and when the mystery gets taken out of it and you realize that anything that's ever been made, from a work of art to a company, was just people doing stuff. You know, they might have been, they might have had different preparation than me, they might be more intelligent than me, but they're not on a different plane of existence. It's just people doing stuff, and that's what I am. So what am I bringing? And what am I gonna have to show for it?

Dustin Mix: Were there alternate paths that you were thinking about in terms of having influence, whether it's before after you ran for the Treasury position?

Pete Buttigieg: Yeah, I mean, one thing I realized was that I got involved in politics and realized how much of politics had to do with money. So there's a part of me that saying, well, maybe I should stick with the private sector make huge sums of money, and then use that to make an impact. But that just wasn't me, it didn't feel right, it didn't actually align with how I believe political power ought to work. So it seems strange for me to try to go do it. I thought about academia, that actually suits me to spend a lot of time alone with a text and then go out in the world and talk about what I've seen and ask questions and engage in dialogue. That's kind of more my style. It turns out, you can apply that style to executive office. But also, you know, I think I would have enjoyed it. There were tons of different options.

But frankly, fewer that aligned with being home. There were only so many things that somebody with my skill set and my preparation could offer, actually. One of them was what I was doing for a while, which was living here but working somewhere else, where it was easier for somebody with my background to have a job. Another one is what I ultimately wound up doing, which is public public service here, but there were relatively few, I actually, they'll remain nameless, but when I realized I want to move home, I reached out to a handful of employers and organizations. I was like, you know, can I – and I didn't get very far. Maybe I wasn't selling myself enough, you know.

It actually felt like a bit of a closed system, that if you didn't – if you weren't in the know, or if people didn't know you and didn't know what to expect of you, it was not obvious whether you could fit in. I think it's opened up, I definitely work hard to open it up on our side in the city. But it may not have been that way a decade ago, certainly didn't feel that way.

Dustin Mix: It feels like there's a lot of permission now – or maybe this is just the world that I live in most of day – but there's a lot of permission now to also say, if there's not exactly something for me here now, I can create it.

Pete Buttigieg: Yeah, which is huge because for cities in economic development, a lot of times we think, Okay, we need to create some jobs, so people will move here. And obviously people need jobs in order to live anywhere, but more and more, you see people who say, I want to be here and I'm gonna find something, or, as you say, create something, which of course is how so much creativity happens because there's also a bit of pressure there. It's like, you'd better create something or else this isn't going to work out. And so there's a healthy pressure there, and not only so you look good but so that you can survive.

Jacob Titus: Right, which I think is like you and Maria, right? It's like who would of – I mean, there were no startup generators hiring in town a year ago.

Dustin Mix: Still isn't.

Jacob Titus: Well, there are none hiring now but there is one that exists. And that's you guys, right? Who have just kind of created it. And that's one example of things happening.

Dustin Mix: I mean, even just like, I think, in some ways, even like category creators, I mean, you look at Vested Interest, or LangLab and Rami, and by being immersed in different communities, you find things that are needed that don't have a category yet.

Pete Buttigieg: That's right.

Dustin Mix: And you can just start doing them and they become relevant. We were just talking about Birdsell. Same thing, it's like we have a lot of buildings and it'd be cool to show them off in a new and interesting way.

Pete Buttigieg: I like that – category creators. I'm gonna use that.

Jacob Titus: Yeah, category creators. So one thing that when I think about your time here in South Bend as mayor, one thing that is drilled in my mind is when I first moved back to South Bend after school, I remember my mom saying, she was a little skeptical of you at the time, still.

Pete Buttigieg: Hopefully I won her over now.

Jacob Titus: She, I think, has come a long way. But at the time was and said, You know, one thing that I can't deny is that Pete has changed the way that we think about the city and the way that people talk about it. And kind of this city esteem, that – and she was feeling that, that people are feeling different about South Bend. And then I was thinking about – around your wedding, I heard somebody say that you – somebody you've known for a long time – and they were saying, You know, we've heard Pete talk about South Bend forever, and he's always talking about it and now we're seeing what we've heard about. And it was interesting to me thinking, you know, you're kind of, you're a numbers guy, you're skilled like you were saying in Excel spreadsheets. Is it interesting to you that – at least to me, and maybe you don't see it as much this way – that one of your biggest impacts has been kind of on this mental side of excitement about the city?

Pete Buttigieg: Yeah, in a way, I've gone through a conversion on that in that I arrived deeply skeptical of anything that couldn't be measured or counted. And so maybe I had an emotional sense of this city and more than I realized, had a narrative about it too that I even inflicted on other people who have never been here who I got to know. But at the end of the day, when it came to management, I just wanted to do certain things that were concrete and measurable, from reducing the number of pages in a certain kind of government form to making sure that a certain building was built, or torn down, or fixed, or whatever had to happen. And so I was not a fan of what you might call the symbolic or ceremonial parts of the job, you know, things where mayors go all the time, and you're just supposed to stand there and, you know, you're there to be there so that people can see that you're there. And it's just a – I felt like this isn't functional. I'm not using any any skill, I'm not contributing anything concrete. I'm just here.

What I realized over time is that some of those ceremonial and symbolic functions are incredibly important and they wind up impacting the things that you do measure and you do count. And probably the moment where I had come full circle on this was SB150. So when we celebrated our anniversary in 2015, that was exactly the sort of thing that was not on my list of reasons I would be there. You know, it makes me – it's like Mayor Quimby from the Simpsons, it always makes me feel like a sash wearing, you know, kind of BS'ing mayor and that kind of vision of politics. But if you think about it, what we did, by throwing ourselves a big party as a city was that sense of permission to believe.

It allowed us to tell a story about where the city was headed. It allowed us to assert the fact of South Bend's comeback. And I think it actually did something else important too, which was it also tested it. Because if the comeback wasn't underway, if the things I was trying to celebrate weren't real, then that whole event would have been a failure, the coverage, the commentary would have been sarcastic, probably. And people just wouldn't have felt it. So. So in a way, it was designed to promote South Bend's comeback but in a way, it also tested it. Now, I can't measure exactly what investments in 2016 came about as a result of the intangible moving of the needle on community sentiment in 2015, but I know that it happened. You can feel it It works the other way, too, by the way. The only reason that sentiment and that narrative added up is that we had published the exact number of houses that we had turned around and showed the unemployment rate moving – like some very specific concrete things did happen. So those two things are always feeding each other. But I certainly developed through experience a healthy respect for narrative, for symbol, for emotion as actually very real and very powerful tools to get concrete results to make our city better off and make people's lives better off.

Dustin Mix: I think there's something too there. There are some things, I mean, look at Best Week Ever, right? And some of those things that have been a result of that. But I think there's also, from the ESTEEM standpoint, there also seems to me to be a weight lifted off a little bit. I was thinking about something that you said, we were at a breakfast one time, and you're talking about entrepreneurship and investors, and we're not going to be the next Silicon Valley. And we're not trying to be, we're trying to be South Bend. And I think that letting that off, that we're not chasing something else but trying to be whatever it is that we could invest at. But the great thing about that is when we at INVANTI have talked to people on the coast, it's like, they're actually really attracted to that. You know what I mean? That we have these things in New York or in San Francisco, or wherever else, but you guys have some weird stuff, you guys are different. Maybe sometimes it goes a little bit too far.

Pete Buttigieg: No, it's great.

Dustin Mix: There's some of that like, Hey, guess what? We could be awesome just by figuring out what our identity is based on where we're from.

Pete Buttigieg: Yeah, think about it. If you're in Silicon Valley, why would you want to go to the next Silicon Valley? You already got one.

Dustin Mix: Exactly, exactly.

Pete Buttigieg: So the question becomes, Okay, what is there here that's different, that's unique, that's distinct, and we're still building out that identity. I don't know that we've got it all worked out. But you can feel it. In many ways it has to come about before you can describe it. It's not something that you think up – certainly not something that a mayor thinks up and then imposes on a community. But what you do is you kind of unearth, you find it kind of starting to gel. It's like clusters, you know? In economic development, people love clusters. We have an orthopedic's cluster in Warsaw, which is a huge driver, job creation. And again, there's a temptation for mayors and economic development to say, alright, let's make a cluster in this field. We had an effort – there was an effort in South Bend before I took office – that was about creating a cluster around nano-technology, for example, because there's a lot of excitement about nano. But it turns out, you can't make one of these. You can find the elements and encourage and cook – you know the way you would blow on a on a small flame. But you can't just invent these things. There has to be something organic, there has to be something real in it, then you figure out how to take it to the next level and how to tell the story.

Jacob Titus: Yeah, I was thinking about when you visited Vested Interest for the first time. This was a month or two ago, and I think at the end, you were saying, this isn't the kind of thing that we could have sat up in our office and dreamed up.

Pete Buttigieg: Yeah, not in a million years.

Jacob Titus: Yeah, and I think the same for even us who have been involved, that this kind of thing of starting businesses and some job creation, and using a building that was just going to sit here, and I mean, next door, we have one of the worst abandoned buildings in the city, right? And it would have been that had it just sat here. It's not the kind of thing you can just dream up or think up. But I think this mental side of the narrative is definitely something that drives something like this, where you think it could be possible.

Pete Buttigieg: And it's so South Bend. What's going on here is about taking something we have and just refashioning a whole new reality from it. And then some of the things within this place are also a metaphor for that. That's why I love the piano operation that goes on, you know, it's a beautiful image of what's happening to the city as a whole, right? You find this object, you're not sure what to do with, it doesn't quite work, and then you you refashion it and you give it a different future.

Jacob Titus: Yeah. So over the last year or two, you've been in the news more, right? There's been more articles with your name in it. And some of it's related to you running for the DNC, things like that. The one thing that is somewhat of a consistent thread – not in all of those, but some – is kind of this disbelief that you could be happy here. And then you could really feel like you're making an impact here. And I'm interested to know, how do you feel about that?

Pete Buttigieg: Yeah, I mean, in some ways, this has been there from the beginning. I mean, when I was first running for mayor, people were like, alright, are you gonna actually do four years? Or are you going to, like, take off in a year or two and do something else? I was like, No, like, I really want to do this! Then I ran for mayor again, and even now people are like, Well, you know, is this just a hop on the way? I'm like, I'm in my seventh year! I've spent most of my 30s on this. This is a project I really care about. And what I've tried to do – course, I care about other pieces of the picture, I care about where we fit into a country and a world where what happens in the national context really affects South Bend as well as a lot of other people. But it's also true that what's happened in South Bend, I think can be helpful for people to solve problems nationally. I think one of the reasons I do get attention is that I'm sharing a story that has a lot of resonance and a lot of meaning. There are a lot of South Bends out there. And there are some ways in which South Bend's story might be a good metaphor for what's going on in America and the need to find a new way to look at the future. And the need to honor and recognize the past without collapsing into nostalgia, without going for a fake promise that we can go back to that past. And yet without rejecting it, or ignoring it either. Yeah, I think those lessons, those stories, have a lot of meaning and lot of value far beyond South Bend, which is why I love going out and sharing them.

But also love bringing them here. We're bringing a group of mayors here in just a few days to host a national conversation on the subject of automation. We've had a lot of folks from the venture capital world from Silicon Valley come here. Some people call them rustbelt safaris. I'm happy to see them come. I will be a safari tour captain for anyone who wants because they genuinely need to understand this part of the country better. And they can help us out with some of our issues and they can benefit themselves by engaging with us. So far, I believe that plugging into a bigger world has benefited the city as well as been something that's up my alley, that I like to do, because I come from a very connected life where you do kind of engage with people around the country and around the world. And, you know, part of is that ESTEEM thing too, like people early on not recognizing that the recovery and transformation of the city was a project that should command the attention of capable people in public service and capable business leaders and capable entrepreneurs and artists. But I think there's a better sense now that this is a perfectly worthy thing to do. And even though I really care about what happens in the United States Congress, for example, I'd much rather be doing this than be in there, which is why I haven't run for Congress.

Jacob Titus: Well, there's certainly the ability to shape things maybe a little quicker and maybe a little more effectively than you could in Congress right now, for sure.

Pete Buttigieg: And so much more rewarding. Now, don't get me wrong. Sometimes I go to Congress to try to get them to change what they're doing because really affects us, and sometimes in some not very visible ways. The one time I actually testified in front of the congressional committee was about the topic of sewer issues. It's actually a huge deal for us. But, in the end, everything's made of individual communities, everything. You know, there's a great saying that all politics is local.

But I think everything's local. In the end, any conversation we have about a policy issue, about a national issue, about a moral issue, it's only real in as much as it cashes out in somebody's life, in the individual lives of people in very specific places, in households, in communities like ours. And the big part of my job is to connect those stories together so that people far from here can understand what it means.

Jacob Titus: Right. So what stories are you telling about South Bend? Specifically, mayors are coming here soon, right, for this conversation on automation. I'm assuming there's gonna be some conversation around the city outside of automation, right? In downtime. What kind of stories are like top of mind that you've been sharing with people?

Pete Buttigieg: So I'll give you a few examples. One, I certainly love telling the stories of how our spaces are changing. So Vested Interest is part of that, Langlab is part of that. I'm still learning how to tell that story. To this day, when people ask me, where was your wedding? I have a very difficult time articulating what LangLab is. But I think we're getting better at it. It's part of that category creation thing you were talking about. I like telling stories about our connectedness. So the story about SF motors, this company with a facility in Mishawaka, that is quietly working on a vehicle that would compete with Tesla if they're successful. A huge deal. But they're here because of the people as well as the facilities that they found here. And we're talking about a Silicon Valley-based company, with investment from China, choosing our region. It was a very important example of how a city can succeed, and how workers can succeed – union workers, by the way – in a globalized environment under certain conditions. So that's a story I really enjoy telling.

A lot of my best stories about South Bend are stories about the people here. I also like reminding people about the nature of what I call urban patriots, the people who just have a certain passion for this city, and who therefore have a very important function in the city, which for some is related to their day job and for some is not.

Some people I don't even know what their day job is. But I know that they will be organizing a certain event that I've got to be at. Or I know that when they say something on social media, it's part of the dialogue in our city that's going to matter. And I think that's important because one of the deepest questions – something we'll be wrestling with at this meeting on automation – is changing sources of identity. So there was a time – if you picture being a Studebaker worker, for example – working at Studebaker wasn't just how you made money, it was how you fit in to the world, and your spouses would get to know each other at union picnics. And from the moment you signed up to the day you died, drawing your pension from that company, right? Not only your economic life, but your social life was very much tied up in that employer. That's not just a blue collar thing. It's true for somebody works at a law firm for their whole career too, or at least it was. Now, coming from a generation as we do, where we're going to be changing careers more often than our parents changed jobs.

We still seek meaningful work, but I think it's less likely that the way we explain our life story is tied up in the jobs we've had. And I think that's even more true for people who are in different parts of the economy where there's just so much disruption and so much change. So there's evidence of a crisis of purpose among people in a lot of American communities. I think it helps explain some of our political instability. I think it helps explain some of our mental health and substance abuse issues as a country. One of the potential answers to that crisis is that community becomes a source of purpose. That's why I love this South Bend on Purpose idea. That what you mean to South Bend, and what you do in South Bend, or wherever it is you're from, winds up being the organizing principle of your fitting into society. And not that your work isn't important but it's not as powerful a source of meaning to you as the role you play in a community. That can be a very healthy thing. That can be a very beneficial thing for the cities but also for people who are searching for purpose. So that's another example of a theme that I'm trying to tease out through South Bend's story. And I illustrate it partly by talking about some of the people here who have a very radiant identity, even if it's sometimes hard to explain to outsiders, what they do all day.

Dustin Mix: I think that has so many cool connections, I think, to things even at the beginning this conversation where you're talking about you moving back, and the category of worker you fit into, like, didn't fit. And so the idea of – because I think even half the stuff we do, like I never thought I would be on a podcast. I was trained in civil engineering. But the purpose of the podcast was important to me from the South Bend part. So I think it's just the resonance of that and what people are allowed to do and create and start seems to be cool.

Jacob Titus: Yeah, I feel like you've explained our theme better than we have. So we might have to steal some of the language around that.

Pete Buttigieg: Hey I steal good ideas all the time, so I'll pay it forward.

Jacob Titus: That's why we had you for Episode Two, so we have like eleven more to go and we're going to be able to use some of that.

Pete Buttigieg: I hope you get to explore this, you know South Bend on Purpose. But also South Bend as purpose, right? What does it mean to have this city become woven into your purpose? Because I think that that could be how we power the next generation's worth and growth here and also make a lot of people better off, not just economically but in a much deeper and more whole way.

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