Barry Shatzman, Executive Director at Lobby99.org.
What’s something you’re passionate about?
Public policies that help the overwhelming majority of Americans. I explain things that are going on in public policy and explain to people how it affects them as they understand it. That’s why I got into journalism, 12 years ago.
What are you working on when you’re here?
I work on explaining news stories. Currently I’m working on two things. One is offshore banking. I’m learning that what happened with these Panama Papers is very insignificant to the U.S., only because people in the U.S. do their banking and form their shell corporations in the U.S., which affects people here because these companies are not paying taxes.
And the other issue I’m working on is the privatization of the air traffic control, there’s a bill in Congress for that. What I’m finally understanding is what it will do is, a lot of the money for the part of the F.A.A.that’s not air traffic control is funded partly by aviation taxes that will go away, and all that money will come from the General Fund. All the funding of air traffic operations will get shifted from people who do fly to people who don’t.
What’s a memorable or valuable experience you’ve had at Collective Agency, and why?
The first one is, it’s a very work-oriented environment. I can sit here and really get a lot of work done. It’s been as productive an environment as I’ve had since I’ve been working on my own. And the second thing is kind of the opposite, it’s the social aspect. I’ve learned things technically that I can use on my website, and I’ve gotten to talk with people about what I’m doing and that’s one way people learn about it. So that’s two huge benefits.
What’s something non-work-related that you’ve been learning lately?
How to sail. I just took a sailing class. I’ve learned the basics of sailing and I’ve been out sailing and contributing on the boat. The sailing culture in Portland is very similar to what you do here. People are very generous in letting people on their boats, and they contribute where they can based on their knowledge and their ability to follow instructions. They bring food. They have some responsibilities, such as they have to wear shoes that don’t mark.
Why do you work at Collective Agency?
I’m always trying to find good places to work. I do a lot of work sitting in coffeehouses, because it gets me out of the house around people. And they have coffee. So when I saw this, I thought, ‘Oh, shared office space, could be an interesting concept,’ and I really like it.
What question would you like me to ask you, and what’s your answer?
I was wondering if you –
[Leah comes up:] Hey, how are you?
Barry: Good. – were going to ask me anything specific about Collective Agency and the environment here. It’s very conducive to getting work done. The music is at a low level, the people are all doing their work but all willing to talk if you need a social break, and I’ve found it to be really productive. It’s clean. It’s a very comfortable environment. There’s no negative distractions.[Then the three of us talked on the sofas.]