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Ending Violence Against Women with Buck Blodgett of The LOVE>hate Project
Episode 354th April 2022 • Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz • Fuzz Martin
00:00:00 00:26:42

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***TRIGGER WARNING***

On this episode, Buck Blodgett describes the manner in which his daughter was sexually assaulted and murdered. If you find this type of content disturbing or triggering, please do not listen to this episode.

I have marked this episode as "explicit." While there is no explicit language in this episode, I wanted to provide extra warning as this content is not typical of Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

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In July 2013, Jessie Blodgett, daughter of Buck and Joy Blodgett, was murdered in her Hartford, Wis. home by someone she considered a friend.

In the following months, Buck formed an organization called, The LOVE>hate Project. The mission of the organization is "Ending male on female violence. Inspiring love over hate."

Buck works to educate students, businesses, organizations, prisoners, and other communities to "educate, inspire and motivate" them "to be resilient, end violence, and choose love."

On this episode, Buck shares Jessie's story and teaches us about The Love is Greater Than Hate Project.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Donate - The LOVE>hate Project - Donate to The LOVE>hate Project to support their mission to end violence.
  • The LOVE>hate Project on Instagram - The LOVE>hate Project Instagram page is focused on ending male on female violence and inspiring love over hate.
  • The LOVE>hate Project Website - The LOVE>hate Project was founded in honor of Jessie Blodgett by her dad. The organization works to end male on female violence and inspire love over hate.
  • LOVE > hate on Facebook - The LOVE>hate Project has nearly 12,000 Facebook followers and posts information about preventing male on female violence and sexual assault nearly every day.

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Transcripts

Fuzz Martin 0:02

I haven't had to do this on my show before, but this is a trigger warning. This week's episode deals with sensitive subjects concerning physical violence and sexual assault. My guest goes into details that might be triggering for some listeners. If you cannot listen this week, I completely understand and I appreciate your choice. And I promise you next week's episode will be free from sensitive content. While there's no explicit language. In this episode, I'm going to check the explicit box on podcast platforms in order to keep this from airing on players that have parental settings to protect their children from potentially harmful content. Again, this is your trigger warning for sensitive content.

ered in their home in July of:

Buck, thanks for joining me on the show. To start this subject matter is going to be heavier than a typical show for me. But I think it's important to tell the story in order to set this up to talk about the Love is Greater Than Hate Project. So could you please tell us about your daughter, Jessie, and what happened to her?

Buck Blodgett 2:39

inning of summer, that summer:

Fuzz Martin 7:00

Thank you for sharing your story. And I know that it never gets easier to tell. And I appreciate it's important that people hear it. Because the what comes next is important to making sure that it doesn't happen again. Right?

Buck Blodgett 7:14

Yes. And that's also important. People hear it as much as I trigger people always walk in this thin line. I don't want to trigger people. I don't want to hurt people. Yeah. And it hurts. That triggers their emotional violence, save experience. But if we can't face the darkness, if we have to bury our heads in the sand, pretend it's not there, look the other way not talk about it. If we can't talk about it, we don't have any power to change it.

Fuzz Martin 7:42

Yeah. Well, as a dad of a soon to be college freshmen and a younger daughter as well. It's very, and try not to be overcome with emotion. But it's hard not to because you picture yourself in your position. And we should all want to do whatever we can to ensure this doesn't happen not only to our own own kids, but to others as well. So

Buck Blodgett 8:06

thank you so much for that. That's why I do this because I I didn't do anything about this issue until after it happened. And I'm hoping to recruit our culture, yeah, to do something about it before it hits their family.

Fuzz Martin 8:20

So let's talk about after that, there were vigils, that community of Hartford came together and then theater community and others the Love is Greater Than Hate Project kind of formed through that. So tell it tell us about what happened after

Buck Blodgett 8:34

There's so much to this. And in my spirituality is probably going to come out and I'll try to be sensitive to different worldviews. So three days after Jess was killed, I was at the Hartford PD, and they found the cereal box in the trash and Woodlawn Park. And the evidence kind of it was all unfolding as I was sitting in Detective Thickens office, we found out it was Dan. That was the day we found out who Jessie's killer was. We'd been telling police for three days that not cite him because he kept asking us about him. They couldn't tell us everything. Nice good kid never been in any trouble straight A student. My initial reaction was not anger, hate violence. a want to kill him. Give me five minutes with them. blood lust. It wasn't any of that. It's hard to explain still eight years later, and I've explained that hundreds of times, but my reaction was more. You know, he's he was part of he was at our house the day after he did it. Nobody knew it was him that he was there for half the day crying with us. sharing memories. He was part of her friend family. Therefore he was part of our family. Yeah. And we were my house filled up for you know, until the funeral, with people loving each other helping each other through this. So he's part of that my first reaction was genuine concern for him. And I, and I loved him. And so it was what could possibly be so wrong in this kid's brain and heart that would allow him to do this. That's how it started. It morphed over the next few days and weeks into chosen forgiveness. A conscious forgiveness is the most powerful part of our project. I find that's what resonates so strongly with people is the ridiculous forgiveness. I don't take any credit for it. I mean, I had to say yes to it, but Right. I don't believe it came from me. I now believe it came to me and through me to bless others. And for me, and for all of us. I believe it's always there for all of us. We just have to open up to it and say yes, at her funeral. I said in that crazy forgiving state, and loving everybody state and the outpouring of love changed me forever. It was. I have no words for the outpouring of love from my family, Joy's family, Jessie's friends, our whole community of Hartford and way beyond. changed me forever. And I thought at one point, why don't we do this for each other every day? Why does it take tragedy to wake us up? And bring out the best? Loss? Yeah. So at her funeral, I said "love is greater than hate." But the time I didn't really think or know where that came from why I said that. A month later at the vigil that other people planned in fact, the first responder who sat with my wife Joy, the day it happened, and from the fire department and the fire chief Paul, they plan this vigil 500 people showed up from our small town walk together in the dark for two hours. And there were signs all along the way. Volunteers had spent days on obviously, they said "love is greater than hate" and everybody had on this blue wristband. Okay, yeah, Laurie spent $400 on "love is greater than hate" big banner in the park love is greeted hate the words from the funeral a month earlier that night. "Love is greater than hate" had made the 10 O'Clock News on all four news channels in Milwaukee. And I went to bed that night. And I knew something's up here. Sure. And it started to dawn on me that a project was being born and I was supposed to do something.

Fuzz Martin:

Now let's talk about the the project. And again, it's very moving on, I really appreciate you sharing your story with us and how this all came to be. Your organization has the mission of ending male and female violence, inspiring love over hate. And then you also have a very strong and aggressive vision, which is zero tolerance for interpersonal violence by the end of the century. Those are very well crafted as a person who does missions and visions for companies and organizations like this is you can use these as examples of how to do it. How are you working to serve your mission and achieve your vision?

Buck Blodgett:

Well, it's funny you notice that because we are blessed with a great coach, and we've had a lot of help crafting, and mission clarity, I've come to understand, it's everything. And I know those missions and that vision are to most people that would be pie in the sky. You know, and I understand you got to have not only your head in the clouds, but your feet on the ground. And we do and I'm not crazy. And I do believe it's possible. We've never ended violence against our girls or women before. But there was time when we were never on the moon. And there was a time when we never crossed the ocean. And there was, you know, human history is full of advancements. And to me, this might be the greatest one ever. I don't know if I'll see it my lifetime I, I can't wrap my head around that it's possible in my lifetime, but I can stand for it. And I want everybody to stand for it.

Fuzz Martin:

What are you doing as an organization in order to get this message out there and to teach individuals that love is greater than hate and to teach them to love more than they hate? What goes into that?

Buck Blodgett:

We do a lot of different things. We'll see how quick I can share some of them to give you a sense. Sure. First of all, we're a message organization. We're not a service organization. So we don't shoe the shoeless and feed the hungry and house the homeless and we don't serve domestic violence victims and sexual assault victims. We have a county shelter Friends, Inc. that does that better than we ever could. And every county in the country has a shelter like that. Great expert people are already doing that. We're trying to change culture. We're trying I'm trying to use a powerful personal story of death and life and loss and beauty and forgiveness to capture especially young but everybody's hearts and minds and shift culture to actually accomplish our mission and end violence against our girls and women. Impossible. People say I don't believe so. I just believe we haven't done it yet. So what do we do? All kinds of different stuff. We do presentations. That Just started naturally because I had this story inside me that was screaming to be told. And thank you for giving me another chance eight years later 130 presentations now for 18,000 people in six states have a message from Jessie. And now we've developed a series of six presentations. We deliver them in schools and the state prison system and professional conferences and police academies and community groups and churches and anywhere and podcasts and anywhere and everywhere I can. Anyone wants to hear about Jessie, but we you know, one and done presentation isn't enough. We got to do more. So we have media campaign. We do print media, we were in the middle of our second print campaign. And those cost money because we have this expert. What's her title, she's She helps us connect to publishers to like a publicist or publicist. That's the word I'm looking for. And our print, our two print campaigns combined have now reached a little over 100 million UVPS online readers basically, yeah, we've done over 40 live radio interviews on Nielsen radio stations all over the country, USA Today, etc. print campaign radio campaign TV, Jesse's story has been covered by for including Dateline NBC for one hour made for TV documentary films that have been seen on five continents by 10s of millions of people. It's ridiculous. I've never done anything in my life that I've had 1/1000 of the success of as this project. And that tells me two things. It tells me it's a powerful personal story that resonates with people that they care about. And it tells me that a lot of people care about it, meaning it's happened to them, or it's happened to someone they know, TV, radio, print media, social media, we have 12,000 followers on social media, we reach over 50,000 people a month. So we do these media campaigns. We do presentations. But that's not enough. We got to have programs to systems change. So we're trying to do some things there. We have the poster project you'll ask me about later, right here in our county. We have a school project that's been delayed by the pandemic. Sure. Yeah. But we're trying.

Fuzz Martin:

Let's talk about that. That poster campaign. So you recently did a ride with the Volunteer Center of Washington counties Do Good Bus. Tell us about that trip and what you did with this poster campaign?

Buck Blodgett:

Another thing I don't know where to start with, I'm still basking in the sunshine of that day. Delta Defense, I believe, I believe it cost $1,500 or something like that to sponsor the Do Good Bus, maybe 1000. Sorry, Volunteer Center. If I got my facts wrong.

Fuzz Martin:

I'm on the board. And I don't know I can't remember what it costs either.

Buck Blodgett:

It's such an incredible day for us. Thank you for being on the board. There's three volunteer centers in the state of Wisconsin. How did I luck out live in the town with one, it's the coolest thing ever. If you're not volunteering, my friends listening, it was so fun. Delta Defense not only bought the bus, but they also sent 19 employees who came to just have a volunteer experience. They had no idea what they were coming to. We all met at The Hub and had lunch. And for an hour, we sat there together breaking bread, and they listen to my story. I told them what our mission is. And what happened just like I've just told you guys, they also listen to Kate from Friends, Inc., tell their story. And then and then also volunteer to your center and what the Volunteer Center is trying to do. And then we all hopped on the bus and drove to Hartford, and then the 20 minute ride. We said, Hey, here's what we want to do. We had all these posters made. These volunteers got off the bus in 35 degrees, spitting rain, windy, worst day ever weather. And I was just so moved, and I'm so grateful. Their passion for an issue they didn't even know about the day before, was so strong. And we blitz the county. Long story short, we placed almost 200 posters in 48 businesses Well, there's two kinds of posters. One of them is targets victims survivors. And it's got Jessie's photo image on it, and some text in the text is basically raising awareness. So the larger community when they go to the restaurant, go to the bar, go to the library, go to the police station, they'll see these and be reminded that this happens everyday in our world. But it's also a call to action to victim survivors to call this hotline and get help to end the violence. Then the other poster targets offenders, okay. We must engage in offenders perpetrators. If we're going to really get anywhere with our mission. Yeah, we must speak to something in them. That doesn't repel them, but attracts them. It doesn't demonize them hate on them. The most powerful thing about our project was I think mine enjoys forgiveness of the young man who killed Jessie, and, and that's a genuine thing, by the way, that's I've had forgiveness and love in my heart for him every day for eight years. And, and same with offender perpetrators. Now, I got to be really careful because there's a lot of people listening who've experienced sexual assault, domestic violence, and they don't necessarily have love in their hearts for the people who did that to him. And that's totally understandable. I will never excuse Dan for what he did to Jessie. And I will never be okay. He's accountable for his choices and his actions and his behaviors that day, just like I'm accountable for mine every day in my life, and my words to my thoughts to, we're all accountable. But that doesn't mean I can't love and forgive. And we're going to have to engage offenders, in their own transformation, inspire them to want that and seek it. So the second poster has a hotline number for them. The essence of the poster project is it's a call to action and awareness for everybody.

Fuzz Martin:

Thank you for doing that. And thank you for your commitment, because it would be really easy. I think, as a father, I that we talked about that in five minutes, give me five minutes alone mentality that you didn't have, I often think of if something were to happen, could I control my rage and anger, it's very big is a small word to say for what I'm trying to say is it's a very big and important thing that you're doing.

Buck Blodgett:

Everybody says that to me, by the way files, if I could just highlight quick, I know, I'm talking to my knowledge. And I would have said the same thing before it happened to me. And then I had this profound and deep life changing experience. So forgiveness that I believe was a gift and a blessing to me. So this whole project is about speaking to that in people. Because that's in every one of us. We don't have to react. And you saw it happen on the Oscars the other night, there was a lot of reaction around that. And a lot of it was ugly. But there's a lot of beautiful response and empowered response to it too. And that's what we're speaking to

Fuzz Martin:

Yeah. What's next for the project?

Buck Blodgett:

Oh, boy. I can't keep up with this project. Yeah, I don't know. from a spiritual point of view, I am now instead of my whole life, I've been a goal setter. And I tried to practice because like, I've never been the fastest guy, the smartest guy, the biggest guy. I just tried to be determined and set goals and have a focus and accomplish that. But it was always if it is to be it's up to me. Everything shifted for me when we lost Jessie. And now it's when a door opens, I'm gonna walk through it for door closes, great. Let's shift and do. Let's follow whatever is at play here that's bigger than me. Yeah, that's that let's try to sense together what the future wants us to do next. You know, in 60, Kennedy said, we're going to the moon. And it took nine years, which still blows me away. But all along the way. They had this they had to be thinking, what's the next step? You know, that's never been done before. What's the pathway from here to there to actually get there and brilliant minds figure that all out. And I'm not brilliant mind.

Fuzz Martin:

And it's not linear either. And there's challenges along the way, and you need to overcome and find another road,

Buck Blodgett:

This will be harder than going to the moon. And there'll be challenges every step of the way. And so I don't know what's next. What's immediately next is I've got five presentations in the next five weeks in the prisons, and at a police academy and a conference up in Wausau. There's the poster project more planning next today is I'm going to Delta Defense sitting in on their nationwide meeting of 600 some employees and they want me to bring the Love is Greater Than Hate faith-based series into their company. So there's always something that's next and I'll just go with whatever that seems to be

Fuzz Martin:

sure. If somebody wants to book a presentation. Have a conversation. What's the best way to get in touch?

Buck Blodgett:

Probably our website or our Facebook page, or website is l-i-g-t-h that's short for "love is greater than hate" if you can't remember it Sure. And watch out your devices might try to autocorrect to light Oh, sure. ligth.org

Fuzz Martin:

Are there some ways that people can help the Love is Greater Than Hate Project? Obviously, with all 501(c)3 donations are important and things but how can people participate and or donate?

Buck Blodgett:

To me the number one way people can help is to allow this work to grow them. Personally, if we're going to accomplish culture transformation. It's really just a bunch of individual transformation. So go on our website and take the pledge. Find the pledge and take it and share it with people. That's the best thing to start with. Follow. I know everybody says this, but this literally true. Follow our page and share it on Facebook. We put messages out almost every day and then we can break into your circle of people Sure donations are great that fuels our print campaign stuff like that volunteer isn't we have local events of 5k, a golf outing, a family fun, fair and the poster project.

Fuzz Martin:

Again, thank you for coming on. Thank you for sharing your story. And most importantly, thanks for all that you're doing.

Buck Blodgett:

As you can tell, this project is about as personal for me as it gets. I don't have just anymore I only have her mission and what I believe she came here for and you and everyone listening today is given me one more chance to make her life and her death count for something useful and beautiful and good. So it's me that wants to thank you.

Fuzz Martin:

Thank you again to Buck Blodgett for joining me and sharing their family stories as well as the story of the Love is Greater Than Hate Project. If you'd like to learn more about the Love is Greater Than Hate Project go to ligth.org. That's l-i-g-t-h—love is greater than hate—.org. You can also find them on Facebook at theloveisgreaterthanhateproject and on Instagram @ lovegreaterthanhateproject.

New episodes of 15 Minutes with Fuzz come out every Monday morning at midnight. Thank you for listening. If you like the show, please be sure to subscribe on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, GoodPods, Podcatcher, Stitcher, Amazon podcasts... pretty much anywhere you listen to podcasts. Okay. Learn more about the show at fifteenwithfuzz.com. Again, thanks for listening. We'll talk to you next week right here on 15 Minutes with Fuzz.

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