Your weekly podcast for a world in flux.
Globalization and climate change. The rise of social media and the decline and fall of Blockbuster Video. AI and VR. Donald Trump and Flat Earthers. The world is changing so fast that we can't get a grip on how we got here, let alone where we're headed.
Join Ben Charland as he peels back the headlines to ask, what are the events, characters, forces and ideas that shape the human story today? Have things always been this nuts, or are they getting crazier by the day? Who were those barbarians that took down the Blockbuster Empire? Just what on Earth is going on?
...with the new novel, Seven by Farzana Doctor
Farzana Doctor's new novel, Seven, juggles family, history, culture, and the incredible weight of those forces on women today. It's a detective story and travel novel, and a powerful insight into a woman struggling with sex, identity, her past, and her vast network of relatives. But the overarching issue throughout the book is female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice still common around the world.
Farzana joins Ben to talk about the book, FGM, her writing process, and much more.
About the Guest
Farzana Doctor is a writer, activist, and psychotherapist. Her ancestry is Indian, and she was born in Zambia while her family was based there for five years, before immigrating to Canada in 1971.
She became interested in community organizing as a teen (primarily environmental issues, gender violence and LGBTTTIQ rights). From 2009-18, she curated the Brockton Writers Series and has been a volunteer with The Writers’ Union of Canada and the Writers’ Trust. She currently volunteers with WeSpeakOut, a global group that is working to ban female genital cutting in her Dawoodi Bohra community.
She studied social work in the early nineties and has been a social worker ever since. She worked in a variety of community agencies and a hospital before starting part-time private practice, where she sees individuals and couples.
She has been writing all of her life but it became a more regular practice around 2000, when she began writing her first novel, Stealing Nasreen, which was published by Inanna in 2007. Her second novel, Six Metres of Pavement, won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award and was short-listed for the 2012 Toronto Book Award. In 2017 it was voted the One Book One Brampton 2017 winner. Her third novel, All Inclusive was a Kobo 2015 and National Post Best Book of the Year.
While all her books are distinct from one another, some common themes include loss, relationships, community, healing, racism, LGBT rights, diasporic identity and feminism. She seamlessly blends strong stories with social justice issues. Her genre so far has been contemporary literary fiction, but here is usually a hint of magic realism in her stories.
She's just completed a novel, Seven (August 2020, Dundurn), and a poetry collection. You Still Look the Same. She is currently at work on a YA novel. Farzana was recently named one of CBC Books’ “100 Writers in Canada You Need To Know Now". She is represented by Rachel Letofsky of CookeMcDermid.
She’s an amateur Tarot card reader and has a love of spirituality, energy psychology, hypnosis and neuroscience.
She lives with her partner and dog near the lake in Etobicoke, the traditional territory of the Haudenosauneega, Anishinabek and Huron-Wendat peoples.
Mentioned in this Episode
Female genital mutilation (FGM), also called female genital mutilation. Read this WHO fact sheet about the practice that affects millions of women and girls worldwide. The Dawoodi Bohra community Farzana's advice column, Dear Maasi Hussonally Abdoolally Nasirudin Dholkawalla, an Indian entrepreneur on whom a key character in the book is based The book, Mullahs on the Mainframe: Islam and Modernity among the Daudi Bohras by Jonah Blank The 2020 Vice documentary, Meghan Markle Escaping the Crown The Quote of the Week
We are human beings. We make the traditions so we should have the right to change those traditions.
- Malala Yousafzai
...after 99 Episodes
It's been over two years since host Ben Charland kicked off this podcast in a basement in Kingston, Ontario. After nearly 100 fascinating conversations about everything from the mafia to the water supply, from science to philosophy, we're revisiting some of the best moments.
Author, science broadcaster and previous guest Ziya Tong (Episode 85) interviews Ben with questions from listeners about what on earth is going on behind the scenes. Enjoy this very special centennial episode!
About the Guest Host
Award-winning host Ziya Tong has been sharing her passion for science, nature and technology for almost two decades. Best known as the co-host of Daily Planet, Discovery Canada’s flagship science program, she brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to the stage. Tong speaks on leadership, how to shift perspective, and the role of science and technology in society in her riveting and eye-opening talks.
Before co-hosting Daily Planet, Tong served as host and field producer for PBS’ national primetime series, Wired Science, produced in conjunction with Wired magazine. In Canada, Tong hosted CBC’s Emmy-nominated series ZeD, a pioneer of open source television, for which she was nominated for a Gemini Viewer’s Choice Award. Tong also served as host, writer, and director for the Canadian science series, The Leading Edge and as a correspondent for NOVA scienceNOW alongside Neil deGrasse Tyson on PBS.
In the spring of 2019, she participated in CBC’s annual “battle of the books.” After a national four-day debate, she won Canada Reads.
In May 2019, Tong released her bestselling book The Reality Bubble. Called “ground-breaking” and “wonder-filled”, the book has been compared to The Matrix. It takes readers on a journey through the hidden things that shape our lives in unexpected and sometimes dangerous ways.
Tong received her Masters degree in communications from McGill University, where she graduated on the Dean’s Honour List. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the World Wildlife Fund and is the founder of Black Sheep.
Learn more about Ziya or follow her on Twitter (@ziyatong).
Mentioned in this Conversation
Episode 85: The Reality Bubble with Ziya Tong Episode 1: Populism with Keith Banting Episode 52: Science with Bob McDonald Episode 56: Men and Gender Equality with Michael Kaufman Episode 38: The Mafia with Antonio Nicaso Episode 93: Politics and its Future with Kent Hehr Episode 2: The Digital Age with Carlos Prado Episode 25: Water with Pascale Champagne Episode 52: Science with Bob McDonald Episode 42: Live Performance in the Digital Age with Colleen Renihan, Craig Walker and Michael Wheeler Episode 66: Acting and Storytelling with Andy Curtis Jake Adelstein, a US journalist with a focus on crime reporting in Japan Eric Hobsbawm, a British historian The Ezra Klein Show, a podcast In Our Time, a BBC radio program and podcast
...with Changing Cities
The one thing that doesn't change about cities is the fact that they are constantly changing. Most people now live in cities, transforming them with their consumer behaviour, their culture, their ideas and their advocacy. City planners have to balance the natural development of these vast social organisms with complex, long-term plans. How do they do it?
Ben chats with veteran urban planner Teresa Goldstein.
Follow Teresa on Twitter (@teresagoldstein).
Mentioned in this Episode
The People's Republic of Walmart: How the World's Biggest Corporations are Laying the Foundation for Socialism, a book by Leigh Phillips and Michal Rozworski Episode 45 of this podcast, featuring broadcaster Terry O'Reilly on counterintuitive ideas and more "Where Libraries are the Tourist Attractions", article in the New York Times featuring Calgary's new Central Library Article in the Guardian discussing the Mayor of Paris's plans for a 15-minute city The Quote of the Week
By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is that needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities.
...with Creativity, Music and Politics during COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic is altering our lives in ways we cannot yet comprehend, and in decades we will marvel at this transformative time. COVID-19 is not just accelerating trends that were in place beforehand, but it is creating new realities. How are artists coping? How about our politics and ideologies?
Alex Green's podcast, Stereo Embers, addresses the current creative moment of the artist. He joins Ben remotely from San Francisco for a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation.
About the Guest
A native of California, Alex Green is the author of four books: The Heart Goes Boom (Wrecking Ball, UK), Emergency Anthems (Brooklyn Arts Press), Let The West Coast Be Settled (Tall Lighthouse) and The Stone Roses (Bloomsbury Academic).
Alex is a known live moderator, interviewing authors, musicians and artists for the Bay Area Book Festival, LitQuake, A Great Good Place For Books and Green Apple Books. Over the course of his career, he's interviewed David Bowie, Maira Kalman, R.E.M., Kristin Hersh, Joshua Mohr, Stephan Pastis, Sherman Alexie, Janice Cooke Newman, and Alison Moyet.
He's the host of Stereo Embers: The Podcast, a weekly long-form interview program that focuses on the creative life and the artist's commitment to their craft. The program is already one of the fastest growing podcasts on iTunes.
Alex is also the host of the weekly radio show "The Heart Goes Boom," which focuses on new music coming out of the UK and beyond.
Alex is the Editor of the daily entertainment site Stereo Embers Magazine (www.stereoembersmagazine.com) and he currently teaches in the English Department at St. Mary's College of California.
Learn more about Alex or follow him on Twitter (@EMBERSEDITOR).
Mentioned in this Conversation
Whiskey Sour Happy Hour featuring Ed Helms For Emma, Forever Ago, debut album from Bon Iver "Studio Notes on Your Rom-Com, for the Coronavirus Era", a short in the New Yorker, 29 June 2020 Dune, a classic science fiction novel by Frank Herbert The Coddling of the American Mind, a book by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, a book by Michael Kimmel Episode 26 of this podcast, featuring Professor Sulaimon Giwa discussing racism Here are some of the writers, artists and musicians we discussed: Jon Bon Jovi, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Tom Waits, Joe Strummer, Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, DH Lawrence, Gord Downie, Green Day ("American Idiot"), Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, Billy Bragg, Bob Dylan, Dead Kennedys The Quote of the Week
"He was trapped in a haircut he no longer believed in."
- Billy Bragg
...with Kingston WritersFest (Ep. 97)
What makes a book interesting? Beautiful? Provocative? Necessary? Is reading still the best way to get a message across and tell a good story, and how is it changing in our world today?
The Kingston WritersFest is one of Canada's premiere literary events, drawing headline international authors as well as big crowds from the bookish Ontario city. Ben chats with the festival's artistic director and alumnus of the podcast, Barbara Bell, about writing, reading, and what goes on in between.
About the Guest
Barbara Bell is the Artistic Director of Kingston WritersFest. She has extensive experience in programming, management, and event planning and production, including several years as Events Coordinator with Chapters Bookstore. She has produced numerous stage plays, several independent short films, including the award-winning Digging Up Plato, and a feature film. Barbara is also an award-winning actor and playwright and a freelance editor, and for two seasons programmed, produced, and hosted a monthly television book club – Page Turners – for TVCogeco in Kingston. Barbara sits on the Community Arts Advisory Committee for the City of Kingston, as well as on the Arts Advocacy Committee of Kingston Arts Council.
Learn more about Barbara.
Mentioned in this Episode
A quote from William Clifford, 19th century English mathematician and philosopher: "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ... Inquiry into the evidence of a doctrine is not to be made once for all, and then taken as finally settled." The Protestant Reformation and the Thirty Years War (1618-48) A quote usually attributed to Thomas Edison: "Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, a novel by Megan Gail Coles The Difference, a novel by Marina Endicott The Tragedy of the Commons, a concept that describes how shared resources are depleted due to deep-seated self-interest Greta Thunberg, Swedish climate activist The Lymond Chronicles, a book series by Dorothy Dunnett A Song of Ice and Fire, a book series by George RR Martin on which the HBO series Game of Thrones is based My Year of Living Spiritually: One Woman’s Secular Search for a More Soulful Life, a book by Anne Bokma Ender's Game, a novel by Orson Scott Card Europe: A History, a book by Norman Davies Barbara's top books from childhood: The Borrowers series by Mary Norton The Chronicles of Narnia series by CS Lewis The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion The books of Enid Blyton The Quote of the Week
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”
George R.R. Martin
We will all encounter disability in our lives, either ourselves or someone we know and love. What is our responsibility when that happens? What role should the greater community play to provide care and support? What about government, public policy, and spending? What's changing when it comes to disability and how we care for those who truly need it, and why is this important?
Ben has an enlightening conversation with Helen Ries, an Ottawa-based advocate with a powerful story of her and her brother Paul.
About the Guest
Helen is a strategic thinker and analyst with expertise in stakeholder engagement, planning and program evaluation. Helen uses research to explore issues, develop practices and make changes in a way that is systematic and evidence-based.
Helen has a special interest in working with people, groups and organizations who are helping to improve the well-being of under-represented, excluded or vulnerable populations.
Helen has been in the non-profit and public sector since 2003 creating and evaluating programs, establishing performance measures, creating plans and strategy, analyzing and revising policy, and supporting people and organizations to build their capacity and effectiveness for better outcomes.
Learn more about Helen and follow her on Twitter (@helenries).
Mentioned in this Episode
Episode 46 of this podcast, featuring Canadian senator Kim Pate about the prison and justice system The Ottawa Adult Autism Initiative "What I Never Knew About My Mother", a blog post by Helen The Sibling Collaborative, an organization co-founded by Helen "Disability, Poverty and #MeToo", an article by Helen Memory, Witness and Hope, an initiative recommended by Helen that brings together French- and English-speaking institutional survivors labelled with intellectual disabilities. "People First of Ontario", a video recommended by Helen about the bond between siblings The Quote of the Week
When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.
- Helen Keller
Well researched, well produced, and exceptionally enjoyable, both the host and guests do a wonderful job of exploring complex issues and timely topics in an insightful and inviting format. Feels more like eavesdropping on an informed, engaged conversation between knowledgeable friends than a formal interview. Kudos to Ben and the team for their phenomenal work!
Ben is a knowledgeable host, navigating each episode with curiosity and consideration. While tackling diverse subject matter, the thread of current relevance is very clear. Always intriguing and filled with many interesting book + author recommendations along the way, I look forward to listening to more episodes!
Interesting, well researched conversations
Thoughtful interviews on an interesting array of topics. Guests are true experts and the questions and perspectives go much deeper than most podcasts. You can tell the host Ben is doing his research.