Every month we take a deeper look at 3 stories of what Transition initiatives are up to around the world.
Episode Eighteen: What if a revolution in relation to land unlocked a revolution of the imagination?
Welcome to our first episode of 2021! We are planning an amazing series of podcasts for this year, and love that you are part of this exploration. In today's episode we bring together Josina Calliste, a health professional and community organiser who is one of the co-founders of Land in Our Names (LION), a black-led collective addressing land inequalities affecting black people and people of colour's ability to farm and grow food in Britain, and Chris Smaje, author of the book 'A Small Farm Future' and the brilliant blog of the same name.
Our far-reaching conversation, which could have gone on for hours, explores our relationship with land, and how a reimagining of that could unlock so much. My thanks to both of my guests for their generosity and wisdom, and to Ben Addicott for production and theme music.
Episode Seventeen: What if indigenous wisdom could save the world?
Of all the 17 episodes of this podcast so far, this is the one that I had to go off somewhere quiet afterwards for a while to digest. It is a very powerful and fascinating discussion. My two guests are extraordinary, and I feel so blessed that they could make the time to join me in this wonderful What If exploration.
Sherri Mitchell (Weh’na Ha’mu’ Kwasset (She Who Brings the Light)) is an attorney, an activist, an advisor, a speaker and so so so much more, including author of ‘Sacred Instructions: indigenous wisdom for living spirit-based change’. She was born and raised on the Penobscot Indian Reservation.
Tyson Yunkaporta is an academic, an arts critic, and a researcher who belongs to the Apalech Clan in far north Queensland. He carves traditional tools and weapons and also works as a senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges at Deakin University in Melbourne. His recent book, Sand Talk: how indigenous thinking can save the world, is deeply wonderful and I am very much enjoying it right now.
Our discussion focused around the question ‘what if indigenous wisdom could save the world?’, and I hope it blows your mind as much as it did mine. I would recommend taking some time after you’ve listened to it to go for a walk and digest it. It worked for me.
Episode 16: What if we took play seriously?
In Episode 16 of 'From What If to What Next' we explore the question of play. Play is a devalued aspect of both childhood and adulthood which has been declining now for decades, and its decline has had many knock-on effects across society. What would it be like if we decided to give it a huge boost, to create the ideal conditions for a re-emergence of play across education, economics, planning, and so much more? What might that look like?
I am joined in this episode by two of the most amazing guests to dive deep into this act of imagining. Ash Perrin is the founder and CEO of The Flying Seagull Project, a UK-based charity that works around the world to bring happiness to children who are marginalised or suffering. His small, highly-skilled team of around twenty professional entertainers use music, arts, dance and clowning to spread smiles to more than 140,000 children in hospitals, orphanages and refugee camps around the world. His TEDx talk from last year is a must-watch.
Ben Tawil is a play consultant and researcher. Working together with his colleague Mike Barclay as Ludicology, they have over 40 years’ experience of working with and on behalf of playing children. Their work includes play sufficiency assessments, research and action planning with municipalities and national organisations, consultancy on neighbourhood regeneration, developing evidence-based design recommendations, and working with schools and arts and cultural organisations to develop playful practices.
I hope you love this inspiring and insightful episode. My thanks, as ever, to Ben Addicott for theme music and production, and to you for listening. Do share your thoughts and reflections, and join us next week when we join Ash and Ben on an umissable visit to the Ministry of Imagination.
Episode 15: What if we learned to love weeds?
During the first Coronavirus lockdown in the UK, a strange phenomenon was seen in towns and cities across the country. As councils became unable, or unwilling, to maintain their usual programmes of spraying weeds and cutting grass, pavements began to feature what had previously been dismissed as 'weeds'. In response, and using a hashtag #MoreThanWeeds, people began using chalk to circle them and to write their names, both common and Latin.
In this podcast we explore how different the future would be if we were to cultivate a culture of better understanding and loving weeds. How would it affect the world around us, and how would it affect us? And how does the way we talk about that dazzling diversity of plants that we dismiss as 'weeds' give insights to how many people 'other' groups of people such as immigrants? What does our attitude to weeds tell us about ourselves?
For this, our fifteenth episode, we are joined by two people who have been central to this chalky-fingered rebellion. Sophie Leguil is a freelance botanical consultant, writer, translator and nature tour leader. In 2019, she created the project "More Than Weeds", which hopes to change people's perception of urban flora and inspire authorities to adopt biodiversity-friendly practices. Sophie previously worked for the charity Plant Heritage, developing initiatives to conserve the diversity of garden plants in the UK. Having lived in Brussels and London, she became interested in urban greening issues, particularly in relation to planning. Using her background in ecology and horticulture, she is advocating for better landscaping choices in cities, to create healthy streets and spaces for both humans and wildlife."
Jane Perrone is a freelance journalist, and presenter and producer of indoor gardening podcast On The Ledge. She is currently crowdfunding a book on houseplants called Legends of the Leaf. She loves growing houseplants inside and raising weird veg in her garden, and walking in the countryside with her hound Wolfie. She has a background in news journalism, spending more than 20 years working in local newspapers, then joining the Guardian as a reporter online and working her way up to an online news desk editor. In 2008 she became gardening editor at the Guardian, editing the gardens pages of Weekend magazine, making the Sow, Grow, Repeat podcast with Alys Fowler and writing features, news stories and blogposts. She left in 2017 to become fully freelance.
My thanks, as always, to Ben Addicott for theme music and production. Do let me know what you thought of this episode. Thanks for listening.
Episode Fourteen: What if we were to respond to the debt crisis with art and playfulness?
One of the things we love most here at 'From What If to What Next' is stories of people bringing imagination to their activism, of impactful, thought-provoking projects that engage our imagination and our playfulness. One of the very best examples of this that we've ever seen is The Bank Job in Walthamstow, London, the work of printmaker Hilary Powell and filmmaker Dan Edelstyn, once described as "an act of generosity rare in the art world".
Following the release of the great new book 'The Bank Job' (published by Chelsea Green, and keep an eye on your emails as on Wednesday we will have a subscriber-only competition to win a copy) and their impending new film about the project, we were thrilled to invite Dan and Hilary onto the podcast. The Bank Job eradicated £1.2 million of payday lending debt in their community and so much more besides. I already interviewed Hilary and Dan once before when researching 'From What Is to What If', you can find that interview here. It feels like something we will now do on a regular basis!
As ever, thanks to Ben Addicott for theme music and production, and do let us know what you think of this episode.
Ministry of Imagination Episode 14 introduction
Here are the opening couple of minutes from Episode 14 of the bonus Ministry of Imagination podcast. Subscribe now at www.patreon.com/fromwhatiftowhatnext.