We had the good fortune of connecting with Fawn Anderson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Fawn, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
From the time I was a toddler, I quietly observed the culture I was born into — in Iran — as well the one my family and I had moved to in the United States. I listened and watched everything, everywhere, and I remember it all. I witnessed my family try to manage living in a country with a diverse range of kindness and animosity. I saw and felt a tug of war that existed on just about every level. I felt racial/cultural acceptance one day, and its total opposite the next. I felt the closeness of one culture that held their elders and young close under one roof; under another, children were told they were out on their own at age eighteen, as their elders were put into a separate home. I saw parents splitting up and kids carrying keys and raising themselves until their parents came home from long hours at work. I grew up noticing the behaviors of our society through immigrant eyes, ears, and heart, and I took a mental note of EVERYTHING. I later studied fine art photography and went to work on documenting all the feelings and the nuances of our global cultures, in pursuit of figuring out the reasons for deep, underlying pain in our society. Why did the United States seem less embracing of its own people than in other countries? BUT, the reason why I started this career alongside my photography work, was this: years ago, after moving away from my Mentor, which is how I view the city of Santa Monica, California; the one who guided and taught me everything about friendship (I go into full details on our very first episode on our podcast “Our Friendly World with Fawn and Matt” episode “The Mentor”). My husband Matt and I became increasingly aware of an unsettling shift. When once, we made friends wherever we went, we suddenly found ourselves feeling it was impossible to even have one friend over for a meal, or to just hang out with. We blamed ourselves in the beginning but then realized there was something else happening. We looked around and noticed how the landscape of friendship had changed. Alongside technological advancement, meaningful connection was becoming a lost art. A wave or a nod constituted a friendship for people. Conversations were gossip fests at the local coffee shop with the barista. I even confronted a gossiper whom I discovered was speculating on my own life once, and told him I would gladly tell him my story myself — instead of him going out of his way to listen through our bushes of our adjacent properties. He preferred the gossip route. Out of frustration one day, on our daily walk, I spouted out to Matt, “I thought it was hard to find that one true love in this world, but now, it feels like dating all over again, just to find a FRIEND!” That day, with Mount Rainier and the beach as our witness, we jokingly came up with the plan of having a dating service like Match.com but to find a platonic friend. Little did we know, our intention around this would get serious really fast. And so, here we are today, the matchmaking site all coded and fully growing podcast devoted to the art of friendship.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a humanitarian-focused, architectural photographer, founder of the social movement Our Friendly World, geared at making our world friendlier, and host of the podcast, Our Friendly World with Fawn and Matt, dedicated to moving our society away and out of the loneliness epidemic and into a happier, friendlier world. On our podcast, we invite listeners to the friendly, welcoming world of our kitchen table to discuss ways in which we can create a socially, economically, and racially compassionate world through the art of friendship. All this came about after many years of traveling the globe, photographing different tribes/cultures around the world. I wrote and created a book of photographs (portraits I took of people from around the world) then studied the entire world’s religions and thoughts of great scientists, poets, and mystics in history. This book is titled “I Am – A Global Family Photo Album.” As a result, I became very aware of the disparaging difference in how we relate, communicate, and live in our society as a whole as well as in the United States. I noticed that we have a loneliness epidemic (long before the covid-19 pandemic). If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would show them the great continental divide. And spend days watching the light and the weather change. It is quite profound. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to give a shout out to a brilliant professor who has been a great mentor to me, Mostafa Purmehdi, a social scientist with a PhD in marketing. He teaches marketing at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) and provide consulting for various businesses on new product development, consumer behavior, and advanced technologies.
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