For the past 20 years Michael has been working to understand the secrets of human connection. His projects have turned into international movements and impacted millions. His second book "Let's Talk About Death" published by Hachette/Da Capo will be available in the U.S., U.K., and Australia in October of 2018. Michael recently became a Partner at RoundGlass to further expand his efforts to impact global well being.
Michael is the Founder of Deathoverdinner.org, Drugsoverdinner.org, EarthtoDinner.org, WomenTeachMen.org and The Living Wake. He currently serves as a Board Advisor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts; and in the recent past as Senior Advisor to Summit Series, Theo Chocolate, Learnist, Caffe Vita, CreativeLive, Architecture For Humanity, ONETASTE and Mosaic Voices Foundation.
In 1997 Hebb co-founded City Repair and Communitecture with architect Mark Lakeman, winning the AIA People's Choice Award for the Intersection Repair Project. In 1999 Michael and Naomi Pomeroy co-founded Family Supper in Portland, a supper club that is credited with starting the pop-up restaurant movement. In the years following they opened the restaurants clarklewis and Gotham Bldg Tavern, garnering international acclaim.
After leaving Portland, Hebb built Convivium/One Pot, a creative agency that specialized in the ability to shift culture through the use of thoughtful food and discourse based gatherings. Convivium's client list includes: The Obama Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, TEDMED, The World Economic Forum, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, X Prize Foundation, The Nature Conservancy.
Michael is the founding Creative Director of The City Arts Festival, the founder of Night School @ The Sorrento Hotel, the founder of www.seder.today and the founding Creative Director at the Cloud Room. He served as a Teaching Fellow at the Graduate School of Communication at University of Washington. His writings have appeared in GQ, Food and Wine, Food Arts, ARCADE, Seattle Magazine and City Arts. Michael can often be found speaking at universities and conferences, here is his TEDMED talk.
3 words to describe Nature?
Life, life, life…
3 things Nature taught you?
Human connection is the electricity we need to light up the human forest.
I don’t make a distinction between the “natural” world and the “human-built” world. So in essence nature has taught me everything I know. I do acknowledge the difference between high frequency, rich environments, and low-vibrational places and communities. I learn equally from both, but the lessons are different. A healthy forest is a perfect example of high vibration, high connection, forest's speak to each other, the forest community transmits information about threats and opportunities across miles in seconds. They speak across species, across class, even animal to plant. We are suffering from a crisis of connection- human connection - which is just a subset of nature connection. I believe that living a meaningful life will elude us until we build networks of higher connection, not just via digital networks, but inclusive of the “natural” world. Our culture is toxic, and I don’t mean that as a judgement, I just mean it is working against human vitality. Connection is the cure, forests and mountains and oceans need to be interwoven powerfully into the center of our lives.
Our lives will continue to be bereft of meaning if our connection patterns look like the electrical grid and not an ancient forest. Every indigenous culture has revealed wisdom that mesmerizes us with its modernity, timelessness and clarity, this is not on the shoulders of a personality, an exceptional genius, but exceptional insight within a forest of vitality. We can’t begin to answer life’s important questions until we are living in a deeply connected ecosystem.
3 most treasured Nature spots?
The Olympic National Forest, all of it.
The Oregon Coast, almost all of it.
Any glacial lake, anywhere.
When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?
Like we are more than just thoughts and things, the ocean makes me feel expansive.
When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?
If it is a vital, alive, thriving forest, I feel a deep sense of love.
When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?
When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?
Sometimes sad, sometimes peaceful, sometimes excited.
When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?
Powerful, connected to the earth and sky.
When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?
A sense of the wild.
Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?
All four. They all align with different parts of me.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?
Share with us a childhood nature memory?
I spent much of my childhood in the woods, alone, building forts out of fallen branches and whatever I could find. It was a way of self-medication. There was heartache, pain and drama in my house and I was far too sensitive to be around it. I needed the woods, I needed to re-create a womb-like environment (the fort) because I wasn’t getting the nourishment I needed from my family. Later when I was a teenager and dealing with many existential crises, I climbed trees, massive Douglas Fir trees, 40, 50, 80 feet into the air. I would sit up in the trees for hours, and the pain would stop.