How did one man make the shift from Not wanting to live in this world, to refusing to live in this world?
If you've listened to this podcast for any length of time, you'll know that I did the Masters in Regenerative Economics at Schumacher college in 2016-17. It was a genuinely life changing experience not least because I met some of the most inspiring people I could imagine - young, motivated and incredibly bright. And of them all, Charlie was the brightest. Even before we met, he'd studied economics at Harvard and SOAS which for those of you not in academia, are both hardcore and supremely activist. And while doing the MA, he was acting as researcher for one of our best known non-fiction journalists and writers. What I didn't know was that he was already an award-winning activist who, over the course of his career has worked for the New Economics Foundation, the Royal Society of Arts, the Good Law Project, the Four Day Week Campaign and the Centre for Progressive Change, as well as the UK Labour Party under three consecutive leaders.
Charlie has spoken at the LSE, the UN and the World Economic Forum and written for The Ecologist, The Independent, Novara Media, Open Democracy and The Guardian.
I should have guessed most of that. What I perhaps also ought to have understood better was that he was bipolar - he now says of himself that he's proudly mad which I love - and how deeply it influenced who he was and what he did. So when he contacted me a while ago with news that he'd written a book, I wasn't remotely surprised. What was slightly surprising was that he is now a double amputee, and that his book is written about the interface between mental health, the climate emergency and what we now call eco-anxiety but which I think needs a rather stronger name than that implies. But definitely, this is something I wanted to talk about on the podcast - the edges to which our awareness of this time brings us, the frustration that arises out of living in a culture that still, broadly, gaslights all of us and does its best to rob us of the power to bring about change. Note that I don't think it's succeeding, and Charlie's book is a testament to the not-succeeding of the dominant culture, to the resilience of people around the world who are living with the reality of the climate, ecological and societal crisis and are forging paths through the chaos. Spinning Out: Climate Change, Mental Health and Fighting for a Better Future is an extraordinary book. It approaches head on the things we often turn away from, and we did this too, in the podcast - so this is a potential trigger warning. We do discuss Charlie's suicide attempt and how he ended up with two prosthetic legs, so if this is going to be hard for you, please tap into whatever are your resources before you listen. And then sit back and enjoy, because Charlie's brought his astonishing capacity for humanity, deep thought, and huge emotional intelligence to this and I loved it.
Charlie's website https://charliehertzogyoung.cargo.site/
Charlie on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlie-hertzog-young-frsa-40b50b162/?originalSubdomain=uk
Charlie's book, Spinning Out https://footnotepress.com/product/spinning-out/
Charlie at Hay on Wye https://www.hayfestival.com/p-20173-charlie-hertzog-young-and-mya-rose-craig-talk-to-areeba-hamid.aspx
More episodes from "Accidental Gods"
Equinox Meditation: Finding the balance point in ourselves and the world: Essence
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Walking the edge between light and dark: Equinox reflections on Accidental Gods past, present and future
24:36As we head into winter in the northern hemisphere, as the tilt of the world hangs in balance, we reached our 200th episode. So this is a time to look back and look forward: to look at where we've been, where we are and where we might go. From our origins as an adjunct to the Accidental Gods Membership, explaining the neurophysiology and neuropsychology behind what we're doing, and then then the spiritual grounding of connecting to the web of life... we moved into talking to people who live at the edge of the new system. In doing so, we discovered the magic of podcasts as a way to nudge our whole system towards change. If it is the case, as Ilya Prigogine says, that 'when a system is far from equilibrium, small islands of coherence in a sea of chaos can move it to a higher order', then Accidental Gods aims to be one of the small islands of coherence. We are here to show the potential in the wonder of our world and humanity's place in it - and to be utterly clear how far we still are from that potential. Above all, we're here to help map the routes through to the new system that can yet emerge from the transition and transformation of our times. Accidental Gods https://accidentalgods.life/join-us/Thrutopia Masterclass https://thrutopia.life/
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Meeting the Spirit of the Land: exploring Spirituality in Farming with biodynamic grower, André Tranquilini
1:26:28In this, our 200th episode of Accidental Gods podcast, I am delighted to be joined by André Tranquilini, estate manager at Waltham Place, a 220 acred biodynamic estate in Berkshire, in the UK. André is a biodynamic farmer, consultant and teacher. He has been the manager at Waltham Place since 2018. André has worked extensively as a market gardener, Steiner school teacher and farmer, and was a founding member of the seed company, Living Seeds, in Portugal. Born in Brazil, André has had the opportunity to work and manage farms in his homeland, as well as Portugal and the UK. He has traveled widely teaching workshops and lecturing on Biodynamic Agriculture and is recognised as a biodynamic consultant by the international Biodynamic Agriculture section at the Goetheanum in Switzerland. This was one of the podcasts where we could have talked for hours, if not days. With is background in Brazil and coming from a mix of several racial groups, both colonised and colonisers, André brings a unique mix of perspectives just from the outset. Then with his training in Steiner's philosophy, and at Emerson College, coupled with his choice to specialise in biodynamic farming, he offers insights into the spirituality of agriculture, of how we can bring genuine deep connection with the web of life into our reality to re-connect the disconnections of the last ten millennia. He is passionate about the nature of living food and really knowledgable on how different it is from the industrially farmed and processed foods we are generally offered. He's part of a think-tank, A Bigger Conversation, that's looking into appropriate technology in farming and is at the leading edge of innovation in the biodynamic field, bringing the best of our new world together with the depth of experience that has grown out of the connection with the land. This was an inspiring and generative conversation and I bring it to you with great joy. Waltham Place https://www.walthamplace.com/Waltham Biodynamic Education: https://www.walthamplace.com/biodynamic-gardeningBiodynamic Association https://www.biodynamic.org.uk/Emerson College https://emerson.org.uk/A Bigger Conversation Think Tank https://abiggerconversation.org/DOK Trial: https://www.biodynamic.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/42-years-of-the-DOK-trial-research-Star-furrow-issue-139-Spring-2023-pages-22-23.pdfScientific American https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/tropical-forests-may-be-getting-too-hot-for-photosynthesis/
Making The Nettle Dress: a journey of attention and intention and magic and loss with Allan Brown and Dylan Howitt
1:19:25"Grasping the Nettle' is at the heart of the film. Making a dress this way is a mad act of will and artistry but also devotional, with every nettle thread representing hours of mindful craft. Over seven years Allan is transformed by the process just as the nettles are. It's a kind of alchemy: transforming nettles into cloth, grief into beauty, protection and renewal. A labour of love, in the truest sense of the phrase, The Nettle Dress is a modern-day fairytale and hymn to the healing power of nature and slow craft."This week is our one hundred and ninety ninth episode of the Accidental Gods podcast. It's been quite a ride, and to celebrate the end of our second century, my partner, Faith, has come to join me as host, and we have two guests, textile designer Allan Brown and Dylan Howitt who is a filmmaker with over 20 years of making documentaries and features for the BBC, Netflix, Sky, Discovery - if you've heard of them, Dylan's worked with them. Allan was exploring how we could feed and clothe ourselves as we head towards a world of localism and increasing self reliance. A journey that began with a simple question - namely 'how can we clothes ourselves?' - led to his spending seven years of his life making a a dress from the fibres of the nettles that grew locally. He harvested them in his local wood, made the fibre, spun over fourteen thousand feet of it, hand wove it, and then made it into a truly beautiful dress for his daughter. It was an extraordinary process of experimentation, discovery and ensoulment - a journey into possibility that would be hard to match in our current, frenetic world. And we know about this: the patience of it, the wonder, the loss, the grief, the resilience, the alchemy… the sheer magic, because Dylan made a film, 'The Nettle Dress' which also took 7 years and is also a process of emergence and ensoulment and magic and discovery. The film is one of the most profoundly moving I've seen in a long time: it's deep time brought into being, it offers connection and profound attention and intention as it follows Al's profound intention and attention. It's so, so different from what we normally see, so grounding - and when we had the chance to talk to Al and Dylan, it made sense for Faith to join me: she's the maker in our partnership, she's been a textile maker and designer and she thinks differently than I do in many ways. So this is a joint endeavour and all the stronger for it. Dylan Howitt Bio Dylan Howitt is a filmmaker with many years of experience telling compelling stories from all around the world, personal and political, always from the heart. Twice BAFTA-nominated he’s produced and directed for BBC, Netflix, ITV and Channel 4 amongst many others. His latest feature documentary, The Nettle Dress, follows textile artist Allan Brown on a seven-year odyssey making a dress from the fibre of locally foraged stinging nettles. Allan Brown Bio Allan Brown (Hedgerow Couture) is a textile artist from Brighton, East Sussex, in the UK. Working primarily with sustainable natural fibres like nettles, flax, hemp and wool, Allan takes these raw materials and transforms them into beautiful cloth with the aim of creating functional, durable clothing that draws lightly from the land, reflecting the fibres and colours of the landscape he lives and works in. Dylan's website www.dylanhowitt.comDylan on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/dylan-howitt-babb3395/Watching The Nettle Dress https://www.nettledress.org/watchNettles for Textiles on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/1648679398499874Hedgerow Couture on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/hedgerowcoutureSimon and Ann at Flaxland https://www.flaxland.co.uk/contactGillian Edom from sting to spin https://gillianedomsbook.blogspot.com/
Healthy Human Culture: Diving deep into ourselves, each other and the world, with Sophy Banks
1:01:32How do good people create systems of oppression? What is Health? What is unHealth? And how do we move from the latter to the former in ways that mean good people create systems of co-creation, inter-being and connection? This week, we explore all these questions with Sophy Banks, Founder and Lead Facilitator of Healthy Human Culture. This week's guest is a remarkable woman who was one of the shining lights amongst those who came to teach us at Schumacher college, before the pandemicSophy Banks has been an engineer, a footballer, and a therapist. She was deeply involved in the Transition movement from its inception, finding ways to balance inner and outer work, to keep heart-focused in a world where a lot of outward-focused action can so easily lead to burnout. I met Sophy as she was moving away from that role, moving into Inner Transition as a new movement and also working deeply with Grief Tending workshops inspired by her time with Sobonfu and Patrice Malidoma Some from Burkino Faso. That was back in 2017 and clearly the world has moved on since then and Sophy has moved with it. She is now Founder and Lead Facilitator of the Healthy Human Culture movement where she brings together the deep learning and experience of the past decades in a system of online learning journeys and other workshops which offers a vision for a world in which societies, communities, workplaces, families and individuals can thrive. It's a journey of healing and understanding and exploration and it feels absolutely core to where we are going, could go, need to go as people and as a culture. It is always an honour, a delight, and a deeply thought-provoking, moving experience to talk with and learn from Sophy. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Healthy Human Culture https://healthyhumanculture.com/Grief Tending https://grieftending.org/Sophy on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/sophy-banks-uk/
Inspiring the climate majority with Prof Rupert Read
1:08:16We're on the edge of so many tipping points it's hard to know where to start. But paralysis isn't useful and so we need to talk to the people who are still moving forward - and who have ideas of how we can carry more and more people with us. With that in mind, this week's guest is a many-time friend of the podcast: someone completely aligned with our aims and ideals and whose energy, activism - and capacity to write and publish books that are right on the nail - leave me awestruck. Professor Rupert Read is an associate professor of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia. With a first degree from Oxford and a doctorate from Rutger's, he has a polished academic pedigree and he's certainly written a lot of philosophical texts and papers. But it's as an activist, thought-leader and fearless advocate for truth that he really stands out. Rupert's books 'This Civilisation is Finished', 'Parents For a Future' and, most recently 'Do you want to know the Truth' are all hard-hitting examinations of exactly where we are and how we could move forward in ways that will at least begin to acknowledge the truths of the meta crisis. It's not all writing, though, Rupert, was one of the core founders of Extinction Rebellion and has been arrested for his actions on behalf of our future. He went on to co-found the Moderate Flank and is now one of the key thinkers and figureheads of the Climate Majority Project. He appears almost daily on television and radio in the UK and around the world and I am really grateful that he's made the time to join us here at Accidental GodsRupert's website https://rupertread.net/books/The Climate Majority Project https://climatemajorityproject.com/IF you want to help - the CROWDFUNDER is here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/power-climate-action
The Art of Living Well - A Creative Life on the Land with Elisa Rathje of AppleTurnover TV
1:13:47In this week's episode I'm talking to someone I met on last year's Thrutopia Masterclass: someone who was there to explore and share ideas about how we might get through to that flourishing future we'd be proud to leave behind. Elisa Rathje is an artist, a filmmaker, a podcaster, a writer, an unschooling parent - and a homesteader whose life is an expression of her philosophy that we need to live closer to, and in harmony with, the land. She and her family farm one and a half acres on Saltspring Island off the west coast of Canada between Vancouver and Vancouver island where she makes her appleturnover TV channel for Youtube, with short films showing the ways she's rediscovering, or in some cases, creating anew, ways to grow and thrive on and with the land. We've had some pretty hardcore conversations recently on the podcast, and I thought it was time for something inspiring, less of how we fix the broken structures at national level, and more how we can each live different lives, tell ourselves different stories of who we are and how we are... get into the detail of composting toilets and community buses and how to keep chickens and geese and sort the water... all the things we're really going to need to learn, or relearn or otherwise bring into being as we shift forward into the small farm future that Chris Smaje was talking about last week. So this is a regenerative episode, about regenerating our souls as we heal the land. appleturnover TV https://appleturnover.tv/The Journal of Small Work https://appleturnover.tv/farm/journal/Miraculous Abundance https://uk.bookshop.org/p/books/miraculous-abundance-one-quarter-acre-two-french-farmers-and-enough-food-to-feed-the-world-perrine-herve-gruyer/1935503?ean=9781603586429Feminism and the Mastery of Nature https://uk.bookshop.org/p/books/feminism-and-the-mastery-of-nature-val-plumwood/825976?ean=9780415068109Attachment Parenting https://attachmentparenting.co.uk/Hold onto your kids by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate https://uk.bookshop.org/p/books/hold-on-to-your-kids-why-parents-need-to-matter-more-than-peers-gabor-mate/739814?ean=9781785042195
Spiritual Activism: Permaculture of land, heart and people with Maddy Harland
1:13:41This podcast is focussed on all the ways that we can bring all of ourselves to the project of total systemic change: our minds, bodies, spirits, hearts - and the practicality of what we do. Given this, we're delighted to welcome to the podcast Maddy Harland, the Co-founder and Editor of Permaculture Magazine . Maddy, and her husband Tim, co-founded a publishing company, Permanent Publications, in 1990 and Permaculture Magazine in 1992 to explore traditional and new ways of living in greater harmony with the Earth. She is the author of Fertile Edges—regenerating land, culture and hope and The Biotime Log. Maddy and Tim, have designed and planted one of the oldest forest gardens in Britain: once a bare field, it is now an edible landscape ,a haven for wildlife, and a reservoir of biodiversity. I met Maddy first back in the early days of this millennium when the whole Permaculture team was in the south east of England. More recently, they moved to Devon in the south west, where they are retrofitting a Devon longhouse to become zero carbon and restoring an old woodland to be a sanctuary for rare species like Dormice and Pied Flyctachers - and to be a place of healing and retreat for people. Maddy has been one of the beacons of the regenerative movement for decades. She's edited one of the world's most vibrantly alive magazines for over thirty years, she's interviewed - and edited - everyone who is anyone in this field from Vandana Shiva to Satish Kumar to Patrick Whitefield hundreds, literally, of the less well known, but absolutely cutting edge, inspiring people in all corners of the world who are living the change that will take us to the future we'd be proud to leave behind. If anyone knows where we're at, and what potential there is for change, she does. So it was a joy to be able to connect and explore ideas with someone who's given their life's energy to exploring the ways that change can happen. COUPON: PERMACULTUREGODS - with this, you'll get a free copy of Maddy's book Fertile Edges, with your subscription. Please use the code at the Checkout. (NB: this is valid until 23:59 on 6th November 2023 - and works once a subscription and Fertile Edges have been added to the cart, and then the code added)Website link at which to use it: https://shop.permaculture.co.uk/collections/permaculture-magazinePermaculture Magazine Website: https://www.permaculture.co.uk/Permaculture Books: https://www.permanentpublications.co.uk/Free Permaculture e-books: https://shop.permaculture.co.uk/collections/free-ebooks-1Permaculture Magazine YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@PermacultureMagazinePermaculture Magazine Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/PermacultureMagPermaculture Magazine Instagram https://www.instagram.com/permaculturemagazinePermaculture Magazine Twitter https://twitter.com/PermacultureMagPlus a free Intro to Permaculture Course: https://workspace.oregonstate.edu/free-on-demand-intro-to-permaculture-open-online-resourceSetsuden in Japan - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SetsudenFilm: In grave danger of falling food: https://www.acmi.net.au/works/80421--in-grave-danger-of-falling-foodbarefoot-economist/
This Mighty Heart: exploring the power of Heart Intelligence with Scilla Elworthy
53:27We all know that we need to reconnect to our HeartMinds and to bring our Heart Intelligence up to meet the explosion of left brain intelligence - we just don't know how to do it. This week's guest is one of my living heroes - who does have clear, grounded ideas of how to do this. Dr Scilla Elworthy was thirteen years old when she saw the Soviet Invasion of Hungary on the television and understood the horror of what was happening. Her mother found her packing a case to go to Budapest to help and managed to persuade her to stay home by promising she'd help to train her to be what the world needed. When she was sixteen, she worked in a holiday camp for Auschwitz survivors, and sat peeling potatoes and listening to them talk of their suffering. Since then, she has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with Oxford Research Group to develop effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics. In 2003 Scilla founded Peace Direct, to work closely with locally-led peace building initiatives throughout the world, bringing us daily experience in how to help prevent violent conflict and build sustainable peace throughout the world.She has written numerous books, given numerous TED and TEDx talks and now leads The Business Plan for Peace to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of transforming destructive conflict. She was awarded the Niwano Peace Prize in 2003 and the Luxembourg Peace Prize in 2020. She is one of the clearest, most grounded thinkers I have ever met and she's working tirelessly to create the future we'd be proud to leave behind. I was more than a little star-struck, but this was a genuinely heart-felt conversation and I hope listening to it leaves you feeling as heart-connected as it did me. The Mighty Heart https://mightyheart.co.uk/The Mighty Heart in Business program: 18th October - 6th December 2023 https://thebusinessplanforpeace.org/the-mighty-heart-in-business/TED Talk: Fighting with Non Violence https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk3K_Vrve-ETEDx Talk: Dare to Question: Why are we so afraid of getting older https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6zenOjPC1ATEDx Talk: How do I deal with a bully without becoming a thug? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgWyolwBGgETEDx Talk: The Future Belongs to those who can see it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWDl1PqGjqYTEDx Talk: Do something - OK, but how? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYlhHkLgBWATEDx Talk: The Business Plan for Peace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH1WgurH5FAConversations in Compassion w Dr Scilla Elworthy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C5BMRDYzc8Book: Pioneering the Possible https://uk.bookshop.org/p/books/pioneering-the-possible-awakened-leadership-for-a-world-that-works-scilla-elworthy/3218709?ean=9781583948620Books: The Mighty Heart in Action and The Business Plan for Peace https://mightyheart.co.uk/media/
AI: Integral to the future or existential risk? (or both) - conversations on current evolution with Daniel Thorson
1:17:46How dangerous is AI? Are Large Language Models likely to subvert our children? Is Generalised AI going to wipe out all life on the planet? I don't know the answers to these. It may be that nobody knows, but this week's guest was my go-to when I needed someone with total integrity to help unravel one of the most existential crises of our time, to lay it out as simply as we can without losing the essence of complexity, to help us see the worst cases - and their likelihood - and the best cases, and then to navigate a route past the first and onto the second. Daniel Thorson is an activist - he was active in the early days of the Occupy movement and in Extinction Rebellion. He is a lot more technologically literate than I am - he was active early in Buddhist Geeks. He is a soulful, thoughtful, heartful person, who lives at and works with the Monastic Academy for the Preservation of Life on Earth in Vermont. And he's host of the Emerge podcast, Making Sense of What's Next. So in all ways, when I wanted to explore the existential risks, and maybe the potential of Artificial Intelligence, and wanted to talk with someone I could trust, and whose views I could bring to you unfiltered, Daniel was my first thought, and I'm genuinely thrilled that he agreed to come back onto the podcast to talk about what's going on right now. My first query was triggered by the interview with Eliezer Yudkowsky on the Bankless podcast - Eliezer talked about the dangers of Generalised AI, or Artificial General Intelligence, AGI, and the reasons why it was so hard - he would say impossible - to align the intentions of a silicon-based intelligence with our human values, even if we knew what they were and could define them clearly. Listening to that, was what prompted me to write to Daniel. Since then, I listened many times to two of Daniels own recent podcasts: one with the educational philosopher Zak Stein on the dangers of AI Tutors and one with Jill Nephew, the founder of Inqwire, Public Benefit Company on a mission to help the world make sense. The Inqwire technology is designed to enhance and accelerate human sensemaking abilities. Jill is also host of the Natural Intelligence podcast and has clearly thought deeply about the nature of intelligence, the human experience and the neurophysiology and neuropsychology of our interactions with Large Language Models. I've linked all three of these podcasts below and absolutely recommend that you listen to them if you want more depth than we have here. What Daniel and I tried to do today was to lay things out in very straightforward terms: it's an area fraught with jargon and belief systems and assumptions, and we wanted to strip those away where we could and acknowledge them where we couldn't, and lay out where we are, what the worst cases are, what the best case is, given that we have to move forward with technology, switching it all off seems not to be an option—and how we might move from worst to best case. With this latter in mind, I've included a link to Daniel's new project, the Church of the Intimate Web which aims to connect people with each other. I've also - because it seems not everyone listens to the very end of the podcasts - included a link to our membership programme in Accidental Gods where we aim to help people connect to the wider web of life. I definitely see these two as interlinked and mutually compatible. So - trigger warning - a lot of this is not yet impinging on public awareness and we're not yet aware of how close we are to some very dangerous edges. This podcast leads us up to the edge so we can look over. We do it as gently as we can, but still, you'll want to be resourced and resilient before you listen. The Emerge Podcast https://www.whatisemerging.com/emergepodcastEmerge with Zak Stein https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/emerge-making-sense-of-whats-next/id1057220344?i=1000610403148Emerge with Jill Nephew https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/emerge-making-sense-of-whats-next/id1057220344?i=1000613784941Bankless with Eliezer Yudkowsky https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/bankless/id1499409058?i=1000600575387The Church of the Intimate Web https://tome.app/the-church-of-the-intimate-web/the-church-of-the-intimate-web-a-response-to-the-global-intimacy-disorder-clhgc8h1l1b2p5k3z9ppbitfyAccidental Gods Membership https://accidentalgods.life/join-us/The Soul's Code by James Hillman https://uk.bookshop.org/p/books/the-soul-s-code-james-hillman/1563087?ean=9780553506341