Episodes

  • The story of how a policeman became instrumental in setting up a Cornish dance group is fantastic. The TR14-ers, named by its young members, are based in Cambourne in Cornwall (a.k.a TR14) and was set up in 2005 by David Aynsley our guest this week. David’s core of compassion, and his understanding of how communities can be nurtured led him to sign his Neighbourhood Police Team up to the first ever Connecting Communities programme run by our former guest Hazel Stuteley, and the rest is history. 

    It is an extraordinary story that shows what policing can do. The TR14-ers are now a self-run charity, the lessons are free, the young dancers self-organise and lead the dance sessions. This conversation is full of stories that show how you can feed what is good in a community that to many looks like there is nothing, how you can be a supportive police force, how amazing and hard that is, but mostly how worth it it is. 

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  • This week Julian talks to regenerative economist Bennet Zelner. While economics is not something that is habitually associated with compassion, in this episode Bennet highlights how it affects us on a day to day level: How our current economic system is draining monetary resources from communities for the benefits of shareholders, and how large the impact of having a different system could be.

    Bennet’s work is revolutionary, and his mission of injecting humanity back into economics is well funded and long over due. By changing the way we think about money - as something that benefits many rather than just a few, we can change society. 

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  • This week Julian talks to Nicole Hewlett. Nicole grew up unaware of her aboriginal roots until her teens, however she always had a deeper understanding of herself which somehow acknowledged a difference, and she always was drawn and emotionally and socially connected socially to minority communities. After studying Psychological sciences and then public health, Nicole now works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well non-indigenous communities, creating accessible palliative care that breaks down the current intrinsic barriers. 

    The very deep knowledge that indigenous communities hold, from being over 60,000 years old, and from always drawing on their ancestors and their communal learning, is an entirely different understanding of life, death, people, animals and place, to the one we learn in schools and in life in general. Throughout the conversation Nicole gives shape to these ideas (in a language which inherently has tried to stamp out the aboriginal culture for many years), and what non-indigenous communities can learn, and how not having this understanding has been affecting the way society does social care, death and dying. 

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  • This week Julian and Hazel conclude their conversation about Hazel’s amazing work after the enormous success of the Beacon project in Cornwall. 

    While Hazel had a disappointing stint with the Government, who failed to grasp the importance of what she achieved, her success did not go unnoticed. Through speaking up and down the country Hazel met a hoard of doctors, and various academics, who understood how transformative the Beacon project had been.

    Hazels work since then has been no less successful. And throughout all of it she has held onto the key principles that drove the initial project - connection, listening, and giving people space. While it sounds simple, it is incredibly hard to execute with authenticity.

    For more information on the work that Hazel has done you can tune in to next week’s episode, and also look at C2.

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  • This week is the first part of a conversation with Hazel Stutley O.B.E. Her work has been lauded widely for both the impact that it has had and the way that stakeholders are at the centre of her work, in a way that has been truly transformative. 

    In part 1 Hazel talks about how she came to community development, and in particular how she started the Beacon project in Cornwall which went on to win awards and, more importantly, had remarkable side effects on the community ranging from better school grades for primary school children, to safer housing. 

    Hazel’s kindness, and belief in the ability of humans to also be kind and engaged given the opportunity, shines throughout this episode. Through connection and communication grounded in compassion, Hazel has achieved so much, and shown what is possible.

    For more information on the work that Hazel has done you can tune in to next week’s episode, and also look at C2 

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  • This week Julian talks to ecologist Dr Rod Gritten, the former Head of Ecology of Snowdonia National Park. Since becoming enthralled with spiders as a young boy, Rod has always been invested and connected in the environment and the ecosystem. He has a deep understanding of how it is now, how it could be, and how human health is deeply connected to the health of nature.

    Despite the impressively gloomy outlook for our environment, this conversation is positive. Through re connecting with nature we as a species can find our way back to a more interdependent life with our surroundings. 

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  • This week Julian is joined by Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell, founding member of the Te Ārai Palliative and End of Life Research Group in the School of Nursing at the University of Auckland where she is also a Research Fellow. The reclamation of knowledge that is occurring world-over in indigenous communities has been making waves in every area of life and community, and in this podcast Dr Moeke Maxwell talks about how Maori knowledge and way of life has moved with her through her research in Palliative care and life in general. 

    She brings deep historical and traditional knowledge that sees life, death, people and place in a way that western medicine could never understand and does not seek to. However, her research is seeking to bring that knowledge forward. 

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  • On this week’s episode Julian talks to Eivind Hoff-Elimari, local politician for the municipality of Nesodden in Norway. Eivind ‘s take on what politics is for is simple - it is for creating a good life. Not in the sense that we culturally understand a good life, but one that is good for everyone, people, places, plants, pets alike.

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  • Norwegian Green Party politician Kristoffer Robin takes Julian through where Green Politics is at this moment in time, and where he thinks it is pointing. Having grown from scientists who have seen and fully understood the situation we are in as a species, and as a planet, Green parties have often leaned towards alarmism. However in this conversation Kristoffer talks passionately about how green politics is also the politics of compassion, and one which is planning for a better future for humans, rather than for the stock market. 

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  • This week Julian talks to Maff Potts, the founder of the Camerados Movement, former government adviser and policy writer on homelessness, and the man who convinced the Millennium dome to be a venue for Crisis at Christmas before it went out of public ownership. 

    At 21 Maff’s whole life had changed shape as between 17-21 he lost both of his parents. Trying to rejig who you are as an adult in your twenties is hard enough without the extra pain of grief, and understandably Maff went through many hard times. For him working with Crisis at Christmas was the thing that got him through and started him on the path to where he is now. 

    The mutuality of Crisis, the homeless people that helped him while he helped them, showed Maff that relationships and meaningful interactions should be the top priority.

    Camerados Website

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  • Brendan Martin came to community development through a very interesting path. Having worked as a journalist with a particular interest in how privatisation of various industries in the UK was working from the perspective of trade unions, and the actual workers it was effecting, his remit gradually grew outside of the UK and he travelled to over 70 countries looking at similar situations, advising, researching and teaching on how organisations and unions can work, and can self-mobilise.

    Eventually his experience with his own parents and care homes in the UK, combined with his expertise in how to run effective organisations where the service providers and service users are equally as autonomous, led him to start Buurtzorg Britain and Ireland - self managing care teams which work with NHS trusts, and which have amazing outcomes both for the staff and for those who are being cared for.

    Brendans work, and the work of Buurtzorg, is another incredible example of a different way of working which far exceeds the expectations we have of our current system.

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  • Our guest this week, Lisa Keefauver, is a grief and empathy expert. In this extraordinarily tender and moving podcast Lisa talks to Julian about her career and her life which have led her to her current work now, educating people on how to be there for those in grief, and how as a society we can better accommodate those who are grieving.

    CW Rape

  • Often when we think of communities coming together we talk in grand terms about organising, and being motivated by compassion, and it can be hard to pin point what that looks like in more granular, and day-to-day terms. Sue Merriman, and the community of Brereton embody this.

    Sue talks to Julian about how the community response to COVID grew naturally out of people such as herself, who saw others who were struggling, and stepped up.

    Recently Brereton was the first to become an accredited Compassionate Community, and throughout this episode it is not hard to see why. From the way they have spent their lottery grant, contacting nearly every member of the area to find out what they want, to sitting with people in their last and lonely moments during covid, this is a community built on one and other, and that runs thanks to the compassion of its members, and its organisers.

    Brereton Million Twitter Website

  • This week Julian talks to Nobuko Miyamoto about her art which spans all media and practices, and in which community plays a large role. 

    In this episode Nobuko talks about how she came to understand her own position in American culture as a Japanese American women, how passing as Puerto Rican in Westside story made her look deeper into the culture and community in America, how the black panthers spoke for so many people, how the Vietnam war shaped her youth and her future, and about how Art threads through it all. 

    The knowledge embedded in community is something that comes up a lot on this podcast and this episode is no exception, and Nobuko has such a deep understanding of community practice, and the benefits it brings. 

    Nobuko Miyamoto Website, Twitter

    Great Leap LA Website

  • In the final part of our mini-series which has been focusing on how and why our social health has impacts on our physical health Julian talks to Cormac Russell. Having described the how and why social relationships are so important to human health and wellness, in so many different ways, the next question is what on earth can we do about it. There is no better place to start than with Cormac’s work, Asset Based Community Development. Cormac describes how community building works, how it must be built on relationships and what is strong in communities and how professionals need to prioritise this over their services. It is only through the relationships that are built through community can we hope to solve the many, many problems the world faces.

    Transcript available here on our website

    This week Julian talks with Cormac Russell, student and expert practitioner at the same time of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) and founder of Nurture Development. Cormac grew up in rural Ireland, embedded in the warmth of his community. He studied psychology and philosophy to doctoral level, working in the field of child psychology. His ambition to do what is helpful to his fellow citizen, combined with clear insight into what he was doing, led him to believe that institutions were not the way to best help the children contained within them. As Cormac quotes ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Children are in need of security, physical and emotional nourishment and a sense of belonging, much of which is best provided by communities. He researched different initiatives that might help develop this approach and when he came across the work of John McKnight he instantly recognised that this approach provided exactly what he was looking for. 

    Cormac spent the next few years communicating with, learning from and implementing the work of ABCD, initially within child psychology. But he knew his time was up and that ABCD had so entranced him, he started Nurture Development to spread it more widely. Over the last 20 years, he has travelled the globe supporting communities and professional organisations, whether this be healthcare, social care, political bodies and others, to start using community development. The starting point of this, as Cormac says, is to find out what is strong, not what is wrong. It is also to discover the gifts we all have that can benefit our community. And a gift is not a gift without a receiver, so we had better work out how we can give this gift and who it might benefit from it. Communities are built from there. Cormac’s latest book, Rekindling Democracy: the professional’s guide to working in citizen space’, highlights the journey for professionals and community members alike on how to become community builders rather than community disablers. Nurture Development now have a training platform, The Community Renewal Centre, for anyone who is interested and willing to dip their toes into the world of Asset Based Community Development 

    Things mentioned on the podcast:

    Cormac Russel - Rekindling Democracy

    Cormac Russell Twitter

    Centre for Community Renewal

    Asset Based Community Development

    Angela’s Ashes

    John McKnight Building Communities From the Inside Out

    Peter Macfadyen Flatpack Democracy

    Blog about Pokot

    Holly Prince episode of SotK

    Parker Palmer

    Peter Block

    Jody Kretzmann 

    Tom Dewar

    The Littlest Hobo

    Julian Abel can be found on Twitter

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  • ''How the world we live in, the things around us, the things in our head, the people around us, how all of that kind of stuff gets into our bodies and changes the way the genome functions''

    This week Julian talks to Dr Steve Cole, Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences who has a fantastic understanding of precisely how stress, and life in general, changes us on a cellular level. Having discovered in his some of his earliest research that gay men with HIV in the closet were getting sick and dying ‘20 to 30% faster than those who were out of the closet’ he came to realise that there were huge gaps in our understanding of how illness affects people differently and genetics was not answering all of the questions. 

    In his work since, and throughout this podcast, Dr Cole has elucidated the historic and evolutionary reasons that our immune system shuts down when we are dealing with stress, or lonliness, or PTSD, and the like. He talks about what is happening in our cells that means that people who live under duress develop certain illnesses at much higher rates than those that don't, how this plays out in racialised communities, and what the opposite is of this on a cellular level. What are the types of happiness, and what do they bring? And how can we plan for that at a population level.

    ELEVATE COMPASSION - FREE Lunch and Learn

    Join a unique session with three leading compassionate community developers in Canada, expect a lot of conversation, resources to help create more compassion within your community, and a new network of people in Canada and North America.

    Register Here

    Email us [email protected]

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  • As part of a three part series we are rebroadcasting three episodes that make up the how and why social health impacts disease. The first one is this episode with Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad. Her research speaks for itself.

    All of these podcasts highlight the importance of social interaction, the importance of compassion, the importance of research and new ideas in this arena, and the importance of being kind to ourselves and to others.

    This weeks episode is with Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad. Her CV is impressive and her cannon of work has been making huge moves to change the way we live our lives in silos and with increasing deficiencies in our social relationships.

    Transcript available here

    Dr Holt-Lunstad is a psychologist at Brigham Young University and a fellow of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology and Association for Psychological Science. In this fascinating conversation she discusses her major pieces of research (on how relationships impact health and mortality rates, on how loneliness also affects this, and her current study on the impact of relationships between clinicians and patients) on working with Vivek Murthy, addressing the senate, working with the app Nextdoor and on her hopes, wishes and designs for the future. Dr Holt-Lunstad’s papers show irrefutably the positive impact on mortality that social relationships have, and ‘with every increase in social connection there was a decrease in risk’. 

    In the past year the world has seen more rifts and traumas come to the fore that many of us could have imagined to be possible; from the pandemic, to the wildfires, to the aggression towards black bodies (particularly men) across the world, and so much more. Dr Holt-Lunstad’s work gives us the opportunity to heal some rifts and shows that something as simple as 'interacting with our neighbours might be a way to heal some of the political divisions’, something that is more needed now than ever, and will only grow more important in days to come. 

    The app Nextdoor can be found here

    Dr Julianne Holt-Lunstad’s twitter

    Julian Abel can be found on Twitter

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  • After losing their son Joshua in a road accident in Vietnam, Jane and Jimmy were thrown into the reality of what all parents know to be their worst nightmare. In this episode they talk to Julian about their journey from before Joshua died, through the initial stages of grief, and how they now are both still learning to live in this reality, and how they are helping others through the many films they have made, the retreats that they run, and through their charity the Good Grief Project. 

    It is hard to live as a bereaved person in our society. We think of grief as something to move past, or to handle, and as Jane and Jimmy mention - bringing grief into day to day life is largely frowned upon. Their work educates the bereaved and non-bereaved alike, showing us all that there are many ways to be after losing someone, and that the most helpful thing you can do is be content with the heaviness of life and death. 

    Good Grief Project website, twitter

    Films: All available here

    Beyond Good Bye

    Say Their Name

    A Love That Never Dies

    Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van De Kolk

    Guests at Beyond the Mask screening:

    Kathryn Mannix twitter

    Lucy Selman twitter

    Amber Jeffrey twitter

    Ben and Jack, The New Normal twitter

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  • Dr Tyson Yunkaporta’s book Sand Talk is a favourite Julian’s, and in this podcast Tyson takes us on a tour of indigenous knowledge, looking at how we would have lived in the past, to where we are now, and point at spots in the transition which we are anaesthetised to, but which make little to no sense for helping us to live better, fuller, more responsible lives with less health &c, and general world problems. 

    From Tyson’s perspective - one that is hard to disagree with - our use of shame, of division, of punishment, etcetera, is creating spaces for narcissists to lead over people who care, for lies to go unchecked over truth and reason, and unless we learn how to deal with people’s mistakes without piling on shame and guilt in unreasonable amounts, this is only going to continue. 

    We can do this through learning how to have boundaries, through stories, through reconnecting with a language which reflects the land rather than one which continues to bifurcate itself into abstraction. There is so much to learn and Sand Talk should be on the reading list of all SotK listeners. 

    Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta

    The Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake

    Peter Macfayden Survival of the Kindest episode

    Yothi Yindi band

    Semiotics: signs and signifiers, how language exists in abstraction from everything else (also see Derrida and Baudrillard if you want to learn more!)

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  • Panagis was brought up in the warm hearted and closely knit Greek community in Baltimore. He found that he was naturally good at studying. This was no big deal to either him or his friends. His ability in studying was the same as his friend’s athletic ability. Panagis decided that he would become a doctor. After all, no one from his community became a doctor so it would be good for everyone. He had no idea what being a doctor would be like, but he went ahead and trained anyway.

    Once he had qualified, Panagis worked in the Johns Hopkins Hospital, near to where he was brought up. Listening in to consultations, he found the advice given to people he knew well from his community was inappropriate. Being told to exercise by walking in a place where someone had been murdered the previous day just wasn’t going to happen. Knowledge of the community, knowledge of people’s lives and the circumstances in which they live, is critical to helping them to avoid disease, lead healthy lifestyles, get regular check ups and manage disease as best as possible in the community once it has arrived. Along with a colleague, he cofounded Medicine for the Greater Good. This programme has grown enormously, and is being rolled out in other centres that make up the Johns Hopkins group of Hospitals.

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