Today we're talking with Casper ter Kuile, a Master of Public Policy and Divinity candidate at Harvard and co-creator on The Thanksgiving Project. We’re unveiling the project and a note from Chelsea back to back, but first, get acquainted with Casper and see what he’s all about.
Where are you located?
What keeps you busy during the day?
Finishing my Master of Divinity and leading my Harry Potter as a Sacred Text class, as well as getting ready for my wedding in May!
Do you observe any rituals before you get down to work?
The most important ritual I observe is my weekly tech-sabbath. At sundown on Friday, I put away my phone and laptop, light a candle, sing a song, and have 24 hours without email, social media or calls. It's heaven.
Where do you feel more creative, productive?
I'm at my best when working with a trusted partner. I promised myself that I would not initiate new projects without an equal partner. The quality of my work has soared!
You and Chelsea developed The Thanksgiving Project together. Do you struggle to speak to anyone at the table?
I love conversation, but there are always situations when things are tricky. The Thanksgiving Project “menu” helps me move away from telling other people the answers, and keeps me open to the questions.
Do you feel the design in its printed form lends something to the process?
Having a physical product in your hand is a totally different experience from seeing something on a screen. Not that one is necessarily better, but they are different. Having a printed question, for example, means that you read it more carefully. The weight of the paper, the quality of the printing—all of these things give you permission to linger on a question, instead of just swiping to the next thing.
Someone downloads the cards. Describe what you want to see happen at their Thanksgiving table this year.
Downloading the cards is a great way to facilitate meaningful conversation at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Print them off, cut them up, perhaps even stick them onto some colored cardboard! The goal is to give your guests an opportunity to reflect and to share in a space of beauty. Once you've got the cards, invite someone (I like to ask the youngest person at the table) to start by picking a card at random, and answering the question. Most likely, answers will start off pretty short, but as you settle in, you might be surprised by the openness and warmth of your guests' responses.
What was your favorite part of writing the cards? Anything unexpected come up?
What's wonderful in working with these questions over a long time is that my answers to them keep changing. They are like clouds moving across the sky. The longer you look, the more interesting patterns and new ideas you come up with.
Final words. What do you want people to know about you?
I hope you see this Thanksgiving conversation menu as an invitation. Add your own questions, develop your own traditions. For me, what matters most is that we develop deep lasting relationships of honesty, and trust with the people we love. Sometimes we need a little help with that. I know I do.