This Sustainable Life
676: Paulina Porizkova, part 1: No Filter
One of the most famous supermodels, Paulina needs no introduction.
She's here because mutual friends introduced us and her recent book, No Filter, that tells a different story than you'd expect of the once-most-highly-paid model. It deserves the positive reviews from the New York Times and elsewhere. As she describes in our conversation, she spent formative years behind the iron curtain, ingraining in her how to thrive with less, not more, which she caries with her until today. She also wasn't always considered beautiful. I'll leave you to read the book to learn about the toilet bowl incident we allude to in our conversation.
In any case, you'll hear someone much more approachable, humble, and resilient that you'd expect.
We recorded in the winter. She agreed to meet me in Washington Square Park to pick up litter together when the weather warmed up. Since models make great role models, the event could help change minds, behavior, and culture. I can't wait to tell you how it went.
691. 691: Oliver Burkeman, part 1.5: Embracing Our Inevitable Limitations on Time and Energy57:43I've been recommending Oliver's book Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals a lot. When people ask about it, I have a hard time explaining what it says, only that it's valuable. He has a way of communicating important things about values, time, intent, decision, and related concepts that are hard to express otherwise. In this conversation he shares more.One thing I can express that I value: what he says about time parallels what I say about energy, specifically energy as physicists describe it, not emotional energy. We don't have infinite amounts of time or energy. If we see life as missing out on what we lack time or energy for, we'll crave what we lack. We'll be insecure. If instead, we recognize we don't have time or energy to do everything we'd enjoy, we can construct the lives we want, which will be abundant.Being an episode 1.5 means he only started doing the commitment from last time, but is gracious enough and a leader enough to share, regroup, and if we can find another way forward. I bring leaders to sustainability because they have learned not to hide vulnerabilities, at least not all of them.
690. 690: Leah Rothstein: Just Action, a blueprint for concerned citizens and community leaders59:57This podcast and my mission are about changing culture. The Color of Law compiled our culture's practices that I can only see as cruel and unfair. As long as they're hidden, we can't do much about them. Listen to my episode with Richard and read that book if you aren't on top of America's history of cruel and unfair housing policy.Once you're outraged, then what? In this episode, Leah answers that question. She shares at a high level what people can do in their communities.You'll hear a couple extra notes of interest from me. One is to see what techniques in the culture she's changing can apply in changing our culture in sustainability. The other is that my episodes with my mom talking about the racially integrated neighborhood she and my father chose to raise us in, as well as the neighborhood itself, Mount Airy, Philadelphia, factored into her research.You'll also hear me recognizing a new element in how a cultural practice could start for one reason, say racism, then even after people in that system oppose racism, that system can continue and perpetuate the racism. At a certain level, I knew it already, but it hit me more viscerally when Leah explained it. You'll hear.The Just Action web pageJust Action on Substack
689. 689: Workshop results: Can Learning to Lead Sustainability be fun, inspiring, and effective? Yes!27:52[Click to watch the video of this post.]Can Learning to Lead Sustainability be fun, inspiring, and effective?Yes!I just finished leading my first workshop in leading oneself and others effectively to act more sustainably: enduring systemic change and immediate personal change.Best of all: it was FUN! . . . both the workshop and the action it led to.Don’t take my word for it. Listen to the participants results.Today's post is the audio from a conversation with them on their experiences.Better yet, watch the video.You can learn to help change culture and restore a safe, clean, healthy world.We're organizing two summer 2023 cohorts. If you want to help fix our world, sign up at https://spodekleadership.com/workshop
688. 688: Maya K. van Rossum, part 1: Green Amendments for the Environment (State and Federal)55:58Some context leading to my conversation with Maya:When I first thought of a constitutional amendment to protect us from pollution, I thought the idea was crazy, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. The more I did, the more it made sense.Since learning about the Thirteenth Amendment prompted me to think of it, I first spoke to previous guest James Oakes about it. Since it involved constitutional law, I spoke to previous guest (and Nobel Prize holder) Seth Shelden, who put me in touch with his constitutional law professor and previous guest Michael Herz. Besides my conversations with them one-on-one, I also spoke with Michael and Jim together. I recommend listening and watching those conversations for context.My conversation with Maya:Then I learned of Maya's work with "green amendments," as she calls them, at the state level as a foundation for the federal level. She has been working on it for years. She shares that history, including a major win in Pennsylvania and New York State's recently becoming the third state with a green amendment.She describes the value of an amendment over statutory law, how current legislation doesn't prohibit pollution it legalizes it, the state of the movement, and goals.If you, as I did, considered environmental amendments interesting but far-fetched, you'll love this episode. Maya is achieving the seemingly impossible and showing it's beyond possible. It's happening.She is the Delaware Riverkeeper, leading the watershed based advocacy organization, the Delaware Riverkeeper NetworkGreen Amendments for the GenerationsHer book: The Green Amendment: the People’s Fight for a Clean, Safe, and Healthy Environment
686. 687: Should We Amend the Constitution for the Environment?: A constitutional scholar (Michael Herz) and American abolition historian (James Oakes)01:31:37See the video for this episode here.I speak about the concept of a constitutional amendment on the environment with former guests on the This Sustainable Life podcast:Michael Herz: Constitutional scholar and former lawyer for the Environmental Defense Fund (Michael's podcast episodes)James Oakes: US historian, focusing on the Revolutionary War to Reconstruction (James's podcast episodes)We approach the concept from many perspectives, especially comparing it with the Thirteenth Amendment.This is my first conversation with two experts on a topic I'm just starting to learn about based on very detailed fields, including law, history, abolitionism, and politics. I have to start somewhere. We recorded this conversation months ago and I've learned tremendously since.
686. 686: Gautam Mukunda, part 1.5: Is Technology Necessarily Good?01:33:48In the first part of our conversation, we start by reviewing Gautam's commitment to sailing, which seemed and still seems a good idea to him. but maybe too much for now. We revisit what motivated him and come up with a new commitment.The second part gets more exciting. Gautam expresses that we need to develop technology to help people who aren't living as well as us so we can help them. (I may not have summarized accurately; listen to his recorded words for his precise meaning.) This view is like waving a red flag to me since I used to think things like that but now see otherwise.We engage in different views on technology, progress, how humans used to live versus how we live today, values, and such.In other words, we openly talk about the underlying beliefs driving our culture and individual behavior we don't question or talk about, but that guide our decisions and behavior. If we can only imagine a world working a certain way, we can't change course. If that course leads to billions of people dying, being stuck in beliefs is a problem.I greatly appreciate a civil, productive conversation on topic that many find inflammatory.The paper on human lifetimes: Longevity Among Hunter- Gatherers: A Cross-Cultural Examination, by Michael Gurven, Hillard Kaplan. Michael Guvern was a guest on this podcast. Quoting from the paper:The average modal age of adult death for hunter-gatherers is 72 with a range of 68–78 years. This range appears to be the closest functional equivalent of an “adaptive” human life span.
685. 685: Chris Bailey, part 3: How to Calm Your Mind: Dropping the latest iPhone for a flip phone and loving it45:51Chris returns to share his experience with the Spodek Method. He did something different than he committed to: he stopped using his smart phone---the latest Apple iPhone---in favor of a simple flip phone hearkening almost back to the nineties.What happens? Does his life fall apart? Does he find more calmness?Should you simplify your life by avoiding the call for the latest and greatest?He shares his experience and you can find out (I'm not sure he did it for this podcast, in that I think he was planning to do it anyway. Still, he shares his experience).
684. 684, Simon Michaux: Do Governments Understand Energy? How Unprepared Are We?01:11:06Simon is a mining engineer who both researches the minerals and mining necessary if we were to try powering our culture with various sources. His work has brought him to work with government teams, especially economists and politicians around the world.He shares in our conversation that we will transition to a low-energy future, what it will take, and how little we have tried to figure out if we can do it. It's worrying to hear how poorly we understand the problem, how unprepared we are now, and how poorly we are preparing ourselves.What he shares is challenging to process considering the risk for catastrophe coming up. Situations like he describes is why I act so much. If you think scientists, engineers, politicians, or anyone understands the situation better than you and you can have faith people smarter than you will solve it, don't hold your breath.I don't understand how people don't take responsibility, prioritize solving these problems, and act.Simon's home pageLink to GTK videos: There Are Bottlenecks in Raw Materials Supply Chain – A Glimpse of the Systemic Overview Is Here, Discussion and the Development of the Solutions Have StartedSummary of report: Assessment of the Extra Capacity Required of Alternative Energy Electrical Power Systems to Completely Replace Fossil Fuels, which also links to videos
683. 683: Alan Ereira, part 3: More about Kogi life and culture, contrasting with ours01:09:59The more I move toward living sustainably, the more I learn about cultures that haven't become as polluting, depleting, addicted, and imperialist as ours. I grew up thinking they were stuck in the Stone Age, but they aren't.Conversations with Alan help me learn about the Kogi, with whom he's lived in the mountains of Colombia and made two documentaries with the BBC. The relevant differences is that compared to us, they live sustainably, free, and in abundance.Alan shares more in our third conversation about what he's learned from them, including how they see us, which is sobering.