Transition Culture

Synopsis

Podcast by Transition Culture

Episodes

  • Tasha Bassingthwaighte on imagination, meditation and wifi-free retreats.

    Tasha Bassingthwaighte on imagination, meditation and wifi-free retreats.

    21/01/2019 Duration: 33min

    Earlier in this series of interviews, I spoke to Dr Larry Rosen who told me, "I would say that our imagination is probably on the decline, exactly in the opposite trend of our time spent on our smart phone". If, as I've been recently musing, our imaginations need time and space, and much of that time and space is currently being sucked up by smartphones, social media and  our online lives, then what happens when people stop, turn these devices off, and deliberately make time to reflect? To explore the answers to this questio, I headed out to The Barn Retreat on the Sharpham Estate, close to where I live, to talk to Tasha Bassingthwaighte who is The Barn's Manager.  I arrived just as participants in one of their week-long retreats were heading indoors for some fine-smelling soup. Tasha and I sat in The Barn's library, and I started by asking her to explain what happens at The Barn.

  • Alexandra Rowland on hopepunk, grimdark, story and imagination

    Alexandra Rowland on hopepunk, grimdark, story and imagination

    14/01/2019 Duration: 35min

    “It’s about how the first step to slaying a dragon is for one person to say, probably drunk in a bar somewhere, “I bet it can be done, though”.  These are the words of fantasy author Alexandra Rowland, whose novel ‘A Conspiracy of Truths’ was published late last year. The quote captures the essence of an idea, a genre, which she coined, called ‘hopepunk’. Fantasy and sci-fi is a world rich in different genres, but as soon as I read how she described what the term meant to her, I realised she had important things to contribute to our ongoing discussion about imagination, in particular to the question of how our storytelling can help to bring to life in the here and now the kind of future we want to create.  Are you ‘hopepunk’? You’re about to find out. I started our fascinating conversation by asking her to tell me what hopepunk means, and how the term came about...

  • Jackie Andrade and Jon May on imagination, lemons and Functional Imagery Training

    Jackie Andrade and Jon May on imagination, lemons and Functional Imagery Training

    18/12/2018 Duration: 47min

    Welcome to our last blog of 2018.  I'd like to thank you for joining me on this journey over the year and for your support and enthusiasm. Jackie Andrade is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Plymouth whose work focuses on imagination and how we can imagine different futures for ourselves and use that to help change our behaviour. Jon May is also a Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth and his work also focuses on imagination and how it affects decision making, motivation and creativity. Over the last 20 years they have developed an approach called Functional Imagery Training which has many insights to offer to our exploration of imagination and its ability to change the real world around us.  I took the train to Plymouth and we sat in Jackie's office and had a fascinating conversation that, as Jackie later put it after reviewing the transcript, is "almost a whole manifesto for behaviour change".  I started by asking them to get us an outline of Functional Imagery Tra

  • Karen MacLean on Den Grøenne Friskole, where imagination flourishes

    Karen MacLean on Den Grøenne Friskole, where imagination flourishes

    07/12/2018 Duration: 22min

    In their book ‘Imagination First’, Eric Liu & Scott Noppe-Brandon wrote “it is pretty clear what makes young humans allergic to imagination: school”.  In my search for schools or approaches to education that truly place the imagination at their heart, and which avoid this kind of allergy, I was fascinated to hear about Den Grøenne Friskole (‘The Green Free School’) in Copenhagen. They are a school that values imagination, Transition and sustainability above everything else, and have developed something very powerful.  To find out more I spoke to Danish American Karen MacLean, one of the people who started the school.  She had originally trained to be a university teacher, but never actually taught, ending up initially working as a translator, but then more recently as one of the people running the school.

  • Ruth Sapsed on Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination

    Ruth Sapsed on Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination

    05/12/2018 Duration: 38min

    Ruth Sapsed is the Director of an arts and well-being charity called Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination.  She set it up 15 years ago with the artist Idit Nathan.  It grew out of a group who started meeting because they were concerned about the creative opportunities that education was offering their kids, the group creating a coming together of artists, educators, academics and parents.  Their conversations led them to start cultivating a relationship with the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. Over time, Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination was formed, and 10 years ago it became a charity.  I first heard about them from Robert Macfarlane when I interviewed him recently, and on further investigation fell in love with their approach and their work.  It was therefore a great privilege to be able to talk to Ruth, and I started by asking her to give us a sense of what CCI does...

  • Nicolas Clerc on ‘Télescope’, a café without smartphones

    Nicolas Clerc on ‘Télescope’, a café without smartphones

    23/11/2018 Duration: 14min

    I recently put out a call looking for places, events or venues that are creating wifi-free spaces, places where people can intentionally get away from smartphones and the distraction they bring into our lives, some time to cultivate the attention.  One of the suggestions I received was a café in Paris called ‘Télescope’.  On a recent visit to the city I headed over to Télescope, a small but rather lovely café in the first Arrondissement, near the Louvre.  It is a place which clearly cherishes coffee, and the art of creating it.  It has been run for the past 7 years by Nicolas Clerc, who sat down with me in a quiet moment to tell me more about he came to be running a wi-fi-free café.

  • Nicolas Clerc on ‘Télescope’, a café without wi-fi

    Nicolas Clerc on ‘Télescope’, a café without wi-fi

    23/11/2018 Duration: 14min

    I recently put out a call looking for places, events or venues that are creating wifi-free spaces, places where people can intentionally get away from smartphones and the distraction they bring into our lives, some time to cultivate the attention. One of the suggestions I received was a café in Paris called ‘Télescope’. On a recent visit to the city I headed over to Télescope, a small but rather lovely café in the first Arrondissement, near the Louvre. It is a place which clearly cherishes coffee, and the art of creating it. It has been run for the past 7 years by Nicolas Clerc, who sat down with me in a quiet moment to tell me more about he came to be running a wi-fi-free café. I started by asking him whether the lack of wifi was deliberate?

  • Amy Seefeldt on creating a ‘Centre for Imagination’

    Amy Seefeldt on creating a ‘Centre for Imagination’

    18/11/2018 Duration: 27min

    Amy Seefeldt set up and runs the Centre for Imagination at an international boarding school in the foothills of the Himalayas in India called Woodstock. As I begin exploring what education would look like if it were underpinned by imagination, and if young people emerged from it with their imaginations fully formed, empowered and vibrant, I was keen to hear her experience of creating, in effect, an outpost for the imagination within an existing school. Amy took a year out of teaching to study at Schumacher College, and her thesis, ‘Centring the Ecological Imagination’ documents her process of dreaming and planning the Centre for Imagination.

  • Kali Akuno on imagination and “the ways we can and must resist”

    Kali Akuno on imagination and “the ways we can and must resist”

    13/11/2018 Duration: 46min

    As one of the co-founders of Cooperation Jackson and Executive Director of the non-profit division of Cooperation Jackson, Kali Akuno has spent the past four and a half years, through Cooperation Jackson, working to transform Jackson into ‘a beacon of radical politics’. For the uninitiated, Jackson is the capital city of Mississippi, with a population of around 200,000 people, with its 80% black population making it one of the blackest cities in the US, with 60% of people living below the poverty line. Cooperation Jackson is working, in a context of colonialism, white supremacy and patriarchy, to upend these dynamics through the building of a solidarity economy, to, as he puts it, “transform the material circumstances of the people living in Jackson”.

  • Judy Wicks on imagination, entrepreneurship and local economies

    Judy Wicks on imagination, entrepreneurship and local economies

    06/11/2018 Duration: 27min

    I was recently in Lille in France as a speaker at an event called the World Forum for a Responsible Economy.  One of my fellow speakers was Judy Wicks, who I've wanted to meet for years. Judy is from Philadelphia in the US, and is a retired entrepreneur, and was one of the founders of BALLE, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.  She now describes herself as an 'activist citizen', acting in a variety of ways which you'll hear about as we get into the conversation we had.  We met over breakfast in the hotel we were both staying in, so listen out for the rattle of tea cups and the distant munching of croissants.  I started by asking Judy to give us some background on BALLE.  What is it, and what does it do?

  • Dominique Christina on using the raw material of possible to say all of the urgent things

    Dominique Christina on "using the raw material of possible to say all of the urgent things"

    31/10/2018 Duration: 39min

    It was such an honour to speak to Dominique Christina.  Her work is remarkable.  Her voice is insistent and fierce and tender and kind and wrathful and beautiful, sometimes all at the same time.  She speaks truth to power in a way that few can. She describes herself as "a performing artist, an author, an educator and an activist". Her words can stir tears or they can stir revolutions. Her words awaken the imagination and invite it, blinking, into the world.  I think she's amazing, and by the end of this, you will too.  I started off our conversation by asking her what does imagination mean to you, what does it conjur up? http://www.dominiquechristina.com

  • Marjorie Taylor on the childhood imagination: I have not seen a decline

    Marjorie Taylor on the childhood imagination: "I have not seen a decline"

    22/10/2018 Duration: 26min

    Although the inquiry at the heart of my research on imagination is framed around the idea that we are, collectively, experiencing a decline in our collective imagination, not everyone I have interviewed agrees. Marjorie Taylor is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon and author of ‘Imaginary Companions and the Children who Create Them’, and editor of the Oxford Book of the Development of Imagination. She researches the development of imagination and creativity, in particular on childhood imaginary friends, and also the relationships that adult fiction writers develop with characters in their novels. Much of her work is conducted in the beautifully-named ‘Imagination Lab’. She is on the editorial boards of the journals ‘Imagination, Cognition, and Personality’ and ‘The American Journal of Play’.

  • Rosalie Summerton on how Art Angel heals the imagination

    Rosalie Summerton on how Art Angel heals the imagination

    14/10/2018 Duration: 29min

    Last week I embarked on the 1o hour train journey to Dundee in Scotland to visit a project I had heard about on the radio called Art Angel. We know that stress, trauma, anxiety, loneliness and depression all have an adverse impact on the human imagination, causing it to contract and shrink. We know that people suffering from those things find it far harder to think about the future in positive ways, to feel any hope of possibility in what lies ahead.  As the UK faces what people are calling an 'anxiety epidemic', with an accompanying decline in imagination, I was curious as to what I might learn from an organisation that works with people on the hard end of the anxiety crisis, and how art, play and imagination can help.

  • Gabriella Gomez-Mont: “Imagination is not a luxury

    Gabriella Gomez-Mont: “Imagination is not a luxury"

    03/10/2018 Duration: 01h13min

    A question that has arisen in my research around imagination and also in the recent interview I did with Stuart Candy was what would it look like if a local, city or national government were to create a ‘Ministry of Imagination’? If the revitalisation of the imagination were felt to be so important that its protection, enhancement and cultivation needed a bespoke department, one that cross-cut other departments, attempting to raise the imaginative capacity of the entire administration. It was an idea that really stuck with me.

  • Gabriella Gomez-Mont: “Imagination is not a luxury

    Gabriella Gomez-Mont: “Imagination is not a luxury"

    03/10/2018 Duration: 01h13min

    A question that has arisen in my research around imagination and also in the recent interview I did with Stuart Candy was what would it look like if a local, city or national government were to create a ‘Ministry of Imagination’? If the revitalisation of the imagination were felt to be so important that its protection, enhancement and cultivation needed a bespoke department, one that cross-cut other departments, attempting to raise the imaginative capacity of the entire administration. It was an idea that really stuck with me.

  • Gabriella Gomez-Mont: Imagination is not a luxury

    Gabriella Gomez-Mont: Imagination is not a luxury

    03/10/2018 Duration: 48min

    A question that has arisen in my research around imagination and also in the recent interview I did with Stuart Candy was what would it look like if a local, city or national government were to create a ‘Ministry of Imagination’? If the revitalisation of the imagination were felt to be so important that its protection, enhancement and cultivation needed a bespoke department, one that cross-cut other departments, attempting to raise the imaginative capacity of the entire administration. It was an idea that really stuck with me.

  • Stephen Duncombe on imagination, spectacle and desire.

    Stephen Duncombe on imagination, spectacle and desire.

    26/09/2018 Duration: 27min

    One of the best books I read this summer was Stephen Duncombe’s ‘Dream: re-imagining progressive politics in an age of fantasy’.  Written during the last days of the presidency of George W. Bush, it was a plea for progressive politics to embrace imagination, spectacle, wit, sensuality and what one reviewer called “a joyful aesthetic of dissent”. I loved the book’s assertion that “unless progressives acknowledge and accept a politics of imagination, desire and spectacle, and, most important, make it ethical and make it our own, we will bring about our “ruin rather than preservation”.

  • Kyung Hee Kim on The Creativity Crisis

    Kyung Hee Kim on 'The Creativity Crisis'

    21/09/2018 Duration: 46min

    The initial spark that set me off thinking that I needed to write a book about imagination was reading a study by a professor at College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia, whose name is Kyung Hee Kim, known as ‘K’ to her friends (because they kept getting her full name wrong).  K is originally from Korea, and came to the US in 2000. She already had a Masters and a PhD from her time in Korea, but when she came to the US she did a second PhD under the supervision of Dr Ellis Paul Torrance, known as the ‘Father of Creativity’.  Torrance created the famous Torrance Test for Creative Thinking, known as ‘the gold standard of creativity testing’.  He passed away in 2003, but K has since continued her research into creativity.

  • When imagination meets Brexit: the story of the Totnes Passport

    When imagination meets Brexit: the story of the Totnes Passport

    11/09/2018 Duration: 21min

    One of the highlights of my summer was collecting my Totnes Passport.  The whole Brexit debacle from inception to its current state of woeful ineptitude and brazen jingoism has been one entirely bereft of imagination.  Neither side has presented any kind of an imaginative story, either as to the wonderful things Brexit might enable, or the wonderful possibilities that remaining in the EU might present.  The whole thing has felt like an imagination vacuum.  I was delighted then to hear that in my town, a local solicitor, Jonathan Cooper, had decided to start issuing passports for the ‘City State of Totnes’ - a member of the European Union, and that within just a few days, the story had spread around the world.

  • Hilary OShaughnessy on the Playable City

    Hilary O'Shaughnessy on the Playable City

    23/07/2018 Duration: 17min

    What happens when play disappears from our cities?  In a report for the National Trust, Stephen Moss writes "a potential impact is that children who don't take risks become adults who don't take risks".  One response is the Playable City movement.  It defines a Playable City as "a city where people, hospitality and openness are key, enabling its residents and visitors to reconfigure and rewrite its services, places and story".  It's a movement that started in Bristol, and believes that "by encouraging public activities that actively bring joy, we can create a happier, more cohesive urban future".  Examples thus far, in Bristol, have included a 300ft waterslide on one of the city's steepest shopping streets, a zombie chase around the city centre, and lampposts you can interact with.  The idea has since spread around the world to cities including Tokyo, Seoul, Lagos and Austin.  I spoke to Hilary O’Shaughnessy, Producer for Playable City, who leads on the delivery of Playable City projects, based at the Watersh

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