Bridging the Gaps 2021: Podcasts on ecology, health, energy, well-being…..

Seán Ó Conláin

In our Bridging the Gaps podcast series, the hosts, Seán O’Conláin and Caroline Whyte, explore a range of topics with guests from a wide variety of backgrounds. We uploaded 10 podcasts in the course of 2021 and will be starting a new series in January 2022. Please feel free to comment below. As with our previous series in 2020, and our 2019 podcast series Beyond the Obvious, it is co-organised by Feasta and the European Health Futures Forum (EHFF).

Special thanks to Laoise Kelly who gave us permission to use her harp music. The piece is ‘Princess Beatrice’ from her Album ‘Just Harp’.

Podcasts are listed below from the newest to the oldest.

Podcast: Dispersing the looming cloud of digital waste

December 31 2021

Caroline Whyte and Seán Ó Conláin speak with Gerry McGovern, who is a specialist in identifying and reducing digital waste and the author of the book ‘World Wide Waste: how digital is killing our planet and what we can do with it’. Gerry has written eight books about digital design and has appeared on numerous media including the BBC and CNN. The Irish Times has described Gerry as one of five visionaries who have had a major impact on the development of the Web. Among topics discussed are the astounding difference in data use between a landline audio call and an online video call and the connection between digital waste, the concentration of power and poor working conditions.

Featured image on the slideshow link: ‘Cloud3’. Author: Temp_Guru. Source:

Podcast 9: Symbiosis and system change: potential lessons from mycology

November 30 2021

Bill O’Dea, a specialist in mycology who organises regular mushroom hunts, talks with Seán Ò Conlaín and Caroline Whyte about the immense contribution that fungi make to the biosphere, their nutritional value, the threats they are facing, the complex symbiotic relationship which they have with each other and with other species, and how this relationship could help to provide inspiration for the societal and economic changes that are needed to achieve a sustainable economy.

(Featured image on the slideshow link: Mushromms. Author: Jiri Kratochvil. Source:

Podcast 8: Growth-independence and clear communication in the wellbeing economy

October 31 2021

This podcast includes two interviews/discussions, one with Jakob Hafele of the Zoe Institute for Future-Fit Economies and the other with Lars Münter of the Nordic Health 2030 Coalition. Both of their organisations are members of the global Wellbeing Economy Alliance, but have come to it from different angles. Jakob talks about his work on the EU level to help enable the economy to function independently of economic growth, and his reading of the current situation in the EU and worldwide, while Lars argues that health and environmental advocates need to make more precise use of the language of money along with other measurements, such as environmental and satisfaction indicators, in order to better communicate the potential of their work. Both discussions take place with Caroline Whyte.

(Featured image on the slideshow link: Communication by Peripherals. Author: DW Source:

Podcast 7: Sidestepping the ‘Growth versus Degrowth’ debate

September 30 2021

In this podcast we look at potential ways to get beyond the time-consuming, and sometimes quite heated, arguments between those who believe that aggregate ‘green growth’ is possible and those who believe that environmental limits – including resource constraints – will oblige us to adopt alternative economic goals.

Beth Stratford, an economics researcher who is a fellow at the New Economics Foundation, a member of Wellbeing Economy Alliance research fellows’ network and the co-author of the report ‘The Path to a Doughnut-Shaped Recovery in the UK’, outlines an agenda that she believes both degrowth advocates and green growth advocates should be able to sign up to. She describes four strategies for reducing growth dependency in the economy while simultaneously improving societal wellbeing. Political feasibility and the challenges of movement-building are also discussed.

(Featured image on the slideshow link: escape key. Author: T. Al Nakib. Source:

Podcast 6: Transformation Catalysts, Part Two

July 31 2021

This podcast continues on the theme of transformation catalysts. Seán Ó Conlaín interviews Steve Waddell, who is the lead steward of the global Bounce Beyond movement which accelerates initiatives working to make regenerative, life-centered economies realizable at scale as “next economies” communities. He has a Ph.D. in sociology and a Masters in Business Administration from Boston College and is the author of numerous books on economic and social transformation.

(Featured image on the slideshow link: bouncing. Author: Petra Winkler. Source:

Podcast 5: Transformation Catalysts and Narratives

June 30 2021

Seán O’Conláin interviews Dr Sandra Waddock, a professor of management at Boston College who holds the Galligan Chair of Strategy. Dr Waddock’s interests include system transformation, transformation catalysts, memes and narratives, intellectual shamanism, stewardship of the future, management education, and multi-sector collaboration. She is the author of 15 books and her work has won numerous awards including the best book award in 2014 from International Humanistic Management Association, and the Lifetime Achievement Award in Corporate Social Responsibility, the latter from Humboldt-Universität Berlin.

(Featured image on the slideshow link: air filter using an oxidation catalyst. Source:

Podcast 4: Community Wealth Building: boosting agency and diversification

May 31 2021

Seán O’Conláin and Caroline Whyte discuss the potential offered by Community Wealth Building (CWB) with Mary McManus, who has worked in the Welfare Rights Advice sector in Belfast for over 20 years and who recently completed a masters degree that focussed on CWB, and with Seán McCabe, the Executive Manager of the Climate Justice Centre of the Irish-based Thinktank for Action on Social Change (TASC), and the author of the report The People’s Transition: Community-Led Development for Climate Justice.

(Featured image on the slideshow link by Jonny Gios at Unsplash.)

Podcast 3: Crises and collectivity

March 31 2021

David Somekh of the EHFF interviews Professor John Drury of Sussex University and Cormac Russell of Nurture Development. They talk about their research into collective behaviour in terms of crisis, ways in which communities can come together when the circumstances call for it, and how a sense of solidarity can be encouraged to take root rather than fade away over time.

Podcast 2: Health, justice and the environment – the core issues

February 28 2021

This instalment begins with an interview by David Somekh of the EHFF of Tsvetelina Filipova, who is involved in All Policies for a Healthy Europe, an intersectoral initiative that brings together a diverse group of NGOs, think-thanks, associations, companies, and individuals. Tsvetelina is chairing the initiative’s environment group and she describes a report which the group has just published. David and Caroline Whyte then go on to interview Professor Éloi Laurent, who is an economist based in Paris and a ‘convert’ to ecological economics. Éloi talks about the strong links between justice, a healthy environment and human health, and how the fight to reduce inequality is the best basis for environmental activism.

Podcast timeline:
2:10 – Tsvetelina Filipova
12:39 – Éloi Laurent

Podcast 1: Pitchforks and Arcadia: overcoming fear with a new vision

January 31 2021

Seán O’Conlaín and Caroline Whyte speak with Mark Garavan, a lecturer in social care at the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology. Mark has a doctorate in the sociology of environmental activism and is the author of the book Compassionate Activism, and he is also a Feasta Director.

Topics covered include the environmental and economic pressures behind the COVID-19 pandemic, the social effects of the lockdowns, the sources of the anger that many people are feeling now, the reasons behind the rise of the far right, the role played by social media and other new technology, and things that could be emphasised in a vision of a more positive future so as to aid our transition from the existing economic system.

Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members.