“Cause-and-effect assumes history marches forward, but history is not an army… Sometimes one person inspires a movement, or her words do decades later; sometimes a few passionate people change the world; sometimes they start a mass movement and millions do; sometimes those millions are stirred by the same outrage or the same ideal, and change comes upon us like a change of weather. All that these transformations have in common is that they begin in the imagination, in hope.”

(from Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit, 2016)

The theme of Episode 13 is hope. For me, the above quote from Rebecca Solnit in her 2016 book, Hope in the Dark, sums up the unpredictability of change, but more importantly, the importance of hope in driving positive change.

When I launched this podcast a year ago, I did so because I believed that although there were many people talking about how serious our environmental situation was, there was far too little discussion about realistic strategies for pulling back from the damage we were doing to our biosphere and coping with the serious future impacts resulting from that damage.

A year later, it’s even more clear now how serious our environmental situation is – made especially clear since the release of the IPCC’s most recent report. So, I think it’s even more important now that we increase our efforts to look for concrete strategies for both meeting these challenges and figuring out how to change our behavior on a world-wide scale necessary to implement these strategies. But just as importantly, I think that we need to maintain our hope and optimism in a time when things are starting to look so dark.

In this year’s podcasts, we are definitely planning to continue to talk with guests who are developing concrete strategies to meet the environmental challenges we face, but we will also be talking about hope. In our first podcast in March, I will be interviewing Dr. Wendy Pentland to explore how listeners can better deal with the stress and anxiety of a climate changing future. Wendy is a former professor of Rehabilitation Therapy at the Faculty of Health Sciences as Queens University who is now devoting her time to life coaching. Her approach as a coach is grounded in the belief that people are motivated primarily by two desires: the desire to fulfill their own potential, and the desire to make a meaningful contribution in the world. Wendy and I will talk about how we can better understand the nature of the stress and anxiety we are experiencing, the kinds of questions we can ask, and things we can do, to better maintain our mental equilibrium as we each work, in our own ways, towards meeting the challenges of the Twenty First Century Imperative.

The idea for this upcoming podcast was a response to what I have been hearing from listeners over the past year. Although you have told me that you have been very inspired by the ideas and experiences of the guests I have interviewed (Thanks for the great feedback!), many of you have also told me that you are very worried about the future, and are not sure whether or not you will actually be able to make a difference, and for that matter, not even sure a difference can be made!

There are clearly no easy answers, and no easy fixes to the terrible environmental and social problems ahead of us. But I continue to believe that however dark the future may seem, pessimism and defeatism are not going to help. So, until our next podcast with Wendy in March, I thought it might be worthwhile for us to recall some of the thoughts our previous podcast guests had about hope and optimism in the face of the tremendous challenges we now face. So, this episode is a compilation of excerpts of some of the conversations I had with guests about hope and optimism.

I hope you enjoy it!