The Next Economy with Dr Amanda Cahill

by | September 23, 2020 | Permaculture Podcast | 0 comments

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What is change? How does change happen? What is the kind of leadership we need in the world today?  These are just some of the questions I explore today with my wonderful guest on Sense-making in a Changing World, Dr Amanda Cahill.  We know our current economic system is not working for a majority of the people on the planet, so what is the next economy, and how do we transition to a society that supports the well-being of people and the planet?

I am thrilled to share this conversation with Amanda as we explore leadership, transition, power, way-finding, change and resilience. I truly value Amanda’s perspective – as a thought leader in this space, and a dear friend.

Amanda is CEO of The Next Economy, founder of the Centre for Social Change, an Associate of the University of Qld, and the Sydney Policy Lab. She was a content expert for the 2040 movie, and featured in the movie talking about the importance of educating girls, particularly in the global south. I joined her as a guest on a 2040 webinar she hosted about Farming for a Future last year. Amanda is also Churchill Fellow for 2020 exploring how climate action can build regional economies that are more resilient, just and prosperous.




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I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which I live and work – the Gubbi Gubbi people. And I pay my respects to their elders past present and emerging.

Read the full transcript here:

Morag Gamble: Welcome to the Sense-making in a Changing World Podcast, where we explore the kind of thinking we need to navigate a positive way forward. I’m your host Morag Gamble.. Permaculture Educator, and Global Ambassador, Filmmaker, Eco villager, Food Forester, Mother, Practivist and all around lover of thinking, communicating and acting regeneratively. For a long time it’s been clear to me that to shift trajectory to a thriving one planet way of life we first need to shift our thinking, the way we perceive ourselves in relation to nature, self, and community is the core. So this is true now more than ever. And even the way change is changing, is changing. Unprecedented changes are happening all around us at a rapid pace. So how do we make sense of this? To know which way to turn, to know what action to focus on? So our efforts are worthwile and nourishing and are working towards resilience, regeneration, and reconnection. What better way to make sense than to join together with others in open generative conversation.

Morag Gamble: In this podcast, I’ll share conversations with my friends and colleagues, people who inspire and challenge me in their ways of thinking, connecting and acting. These wonderful people thinkers, doers, activists, scholars, writers, leaders, farmers, educators, people whose work informs permaculture and spark the imagination of what a post-COVID, climate-resilient, socially just future could look like. Their ideas and projects help us to make sense in this changing world to compost and digest the ideas and to nurture the fertile ground for new ideas, connections and actions. Together we’ll open up conversations in the world of permaculture design, regenerative thinking community action, earth, repair, eco-literacy, and much more. I can’t wait to share these conversations with you.

Morag Gamble: Over the last three decades of personally making sense of the multiple crises we face I always returned to the practical and positive world of permaculture with its ethics of earth care, people care and fair share. I’ve seen firsthand how adaptable and responsive it can be in all contexts from urban to rural, from refugee camps to suburbs. It helps people make sense of what’s happening around them and to learn accessible design tools, to shape their habitat positively and to contribute to cultural and ecological regeneration. This is why I’ve created the Permaculture Educators Program to help thousands of people to become permaculture teachers everywhere through an interactive online dual certificate of permaculture design and teaching. We sponsor global Permayouth programs, women’s self help groups in the global South and teens in refugee camps.

Morag Gamble: So anyway, this podcast is sponsored by the Permaculture Education Institute and our Permaculture Educators Program. If you’d like to find more about permaculture, I’ve created a four-part permaculture video series to explain what permaculture is and also how you can make it your livelihood as well as your way of life. We’d love to invite you to join our wonderfully inspiring, friendly and supportive global learning community. So I welcome you to share each of these conversations, and I’d also like to suggest you create a local conversation circle to explore the ideas shared in each show and discuss together how this makes sense in your local community and environment. I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which I meet and speak with you today.. The Gubbi Gubbi people and pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

Morag Gamble: So thanks so much for joining me this morning, Amanda. It’s absolutely wonderful. And I’d like to introduce Amanda to all of you who are watching this because Amanda has been a longtime friend of mine, but most extraordinary woman who has inspired me so much with the work that she does. So I just tell you a little bit about her first. So Amanda is the executive director of the Next Economy, and she’ll be telling us all about that. Um, she, she was also the founder of, um, The Center for Social Change. She’s a Churchill fellow. Um, she’s an Associate of the Sydney Policy Lab and or UQ, she, um, advised, uh, Damon Gameau on the 2040 movie and was featured in that too. Um, her work has taken her to many places around the world, uh, and worked with, uh, communities in so many different contexts and that’s really part of the core of your work. Isn’t it? Actually looking at what is change, how change happens, how we can transition to a society into a way of living that is actually going to be, uh, supporting wellbeing of people on the planet is essentially what I understand your work to do. But so maybe we could start there really about what is the Next Economy and what is the kind of work that you do that the Next Economy?

Dr. Amanda Cahill: Yeah, we do lots of different things. So it’s sometimes a bit hard to, even for me to get my head around, but basically what we’re trying to do is work with governments and business and communities, um, around that question of how do we transition to an economy that works for both people and planet. So I guess we’re a bit different to a lot of organizations around at the moment because there’s kind of this acceptance of particularly now since the Coronavirus hit and the economy does need to change. It’s not working for a lot of people. Um, and a lot of organizations focus on trying to build that power build a movement around the need to change, to convince leaders that we need to change. We kind of come in at a different angle around, um, working with people when they, they kind of realize that they changed, but they don’t know where to go. So we’re kind of not focused on trying to convince people we need to change. We’re focused on helping people navigate that, that change no matter where they’re at. So where’s the opening where people are ready and then how do we help them access the knowledge, resources, um, skills or other people that they need to actually like a step in the right direction.

Morag Gamble: So, so you’ve worked a lot in this world of transition. So what, what do we mean by transition? What is the, what, what are we transitioning from and where is it that we’re actually looking to transition to? I know that’s a very broad, big question, but I think it’s a key thing at the moment, isn’t it that, you know, change is happening and transition is happening in and around us. And how do we shape that, that type of transition that we, that we really would like to see in the world. So in your mind, the kind of work that you’re doing, what, what is transition and how can you, how can you support people to transition in the ways that they would like to see that happen?

Dr. Amanda Cahill: I guess, yeah, I use transition as a shorthand, because actually we’re always in transition, there’s never a stage where we’re standing still, we’re always moving. Things are always changing and it’s not linear either. I think often we think we’re transitioning from, you know, um, often we’ll talk about transitioning from the need from, uh, an economy that’s based on extraction of value, um, from people, the planet or the land or the water resources, um, for profit to something that is about investing or regenerating, um, land, water, and people in communities, but change doesn’t actually happen that way. There’s kind of openings where things there’s a crack that appears and whether or not that gets papered over and we try and keep going with the status quo or whether that crack appears. And something goes through that crack is kind of that question. So I don’t think, um, I guess I use the word transition, but really it’s about how do we find our way through change? So probably the analogy that we’re using in the next economy is the difference between say navigating using a map versus wayfinding, which is sort of the ancient art, or, um, either navigating by the stars or like seafarers used to use or indigenous people still use today where you kind of look for signs, um, in nature or science actually will say go this way. Not knowing necessarily where the end destination is, but having an idea of where you want to end up. So being guided by those principles around, um, that we need to, we need to move to a system that is regenerating the planet and people, um, that is more just, that means that an equitable that people have access to what they need, not just to survive, but to thrive in the world. So what does that look like? We need to act on climate change. So how can we reduce? So these are the kinds of principles and things that we want to see in the economy that we’re trying to build, accepting that it’s never going to be this direct when you pass to get this. So it’s meeting people where they’re at and then going, okay, if we want to head to this direction, what’s the next step based on where you’re at. Cause it’s gonna look very different for a minister or government department to a local community group. Um, they’re very different. The work looks different, but actually the support around them and helping them take that step is very similar.

Morag Gamble: Just as you’re speaking and the type of change or the type.. The way in which you’re working with communities is completely different and it’s old and it’s new at the same time. So what is, what, where did the inspiration for you come from? I mean, obviously you’ve worked in this field for decades and where do the old different sorts of communities from all different kinds of backgrounds? Where do you feel like sort of, kind of the roots of this, this way that you’re working with is coming from?

Dr. Amanda Cahill: Yeah, probably, um, so many places, but I think, um, from a really personal level, I actually went to a one teacher school. So I grew up in the bush and at the one teacher a school you don’t have access to a teacher who’s like stepping you through things all the time. So often we were given kind of a lesson plan or a sort of a workbook to work through. And if you got to finish that your work quickly, you could actually help other people. I had three or four other people in my grade. You could help them with that activity or you can go and help the other grades, the younger grades with their reading and writing. And I learned at a very young age that you couldn’t just tell someone what to do. You had to figure out where they were at and how they were thinking about that, and then start with where they’re at and then introduce something new, help them to play with that and experiment take the next step. So I think I’ve worked out that that’s kind of where it probably first came from, but then that was strengthened through work I was doing, um, I went to Brazil when I was 17 and started working with a women’s group there. And there were the women who were in the poorest section of the town, helping themselves. They went, Oh, we’re just pulling together the resources that they had to actually meet needs of their neighbors. They weren’t waiting for someone to come and save them that were just doing that. And I turned up and, um, just wanted to do something, um, because I’ve walked down the street one day and just sort of just couldn’t handle it anymore sort of very idealistic 17 year old, burst into tears and walked into the nearest church and said, you guys are going to be doing something about this work. What can I do? And the priest pointed me to church up the road that had women’s group. And I turned up and they were like, well, what can you do? And one of the things that they did was a sewing group. I went, well, I know how to sew. And they’re like, great, here’s a sewing machine. We need 130 nappies. I was like, okay, it’s that kind of, I guess it’s a more feminine approach to just work with what you’ve got and more of an emergent kind of way of problem-solving. Um, and that was reiterated again, when I worked with Aboriginal people and Aboriginal health in Australia, about 2001, again, it was people saying you’re an outsider. You’re never going to understand that culture. Don’t think that you can never tell us what to do. And I was like very young at the time. So they’re like, you know, it’s, you do not speak. You sit listen and we’ll tell you what we need. So it’s those processes of working with amazing leaders and a lot of different countries actually that are saying you have something that we need, but we’re in charge of this process. So actually meeting that and supporting that.

Morag Gamble: Yeah. And similarly, so the experiences I’ve had to kind of process of listening first, I think is such an important part. And, but I know too, that emerging from that grounding and that understanding, you have been exploring a lot of the ideas around, around change and around leadership. And so what is the kind of leadership that we need now? So there’s, you know, there’s one of actually being, uh, you know, being present and, and listening and that’s sort of part of engaging, but what type of leadership do we need in, in our world today considering what’s going on, considering that the kind of leadership that we’re seeing in many parts of the world is actually not taking us in the direction that we need to go in. And yet we’re seeing other types of leadership that is really starting to work well. What is, what is a leader within this frame? What is, what is a good and is leader the right word as well? You know, I’m just wondering.

Dr. Amanda Cahill: Right. It’s definitely a need for leadership. I think, uh, I’ve, it’s been a long journey for me. I think we’ve, we’ve talked about this before. Um, I started out as a facilitator. So my role wasn’t to my role was to hold a space for people to figure out what they wanted it wasn’t to sort of set the agenda and then get people to act in a certain way to get to a certain outcome. Although, you know, there’s a bit of a gray area with facilitation too. Um, cause you are there for a purpose. Um, but I’ve seen over time that even when people are willing and you see this little time with community groups on the ground, people can say that there’s a problem. They’ve got some, they want to start taking action. Um, but they not, everyone has the big picture vision that it’s needed that or the ability to bring lots of people along and coordinate that action, um, to keep an eye on the end goal. Um, the confidence just to an, a presence that actually inspires people to trust. I think so all of these things, I think the need for leadership is still really important, I think we can have really good processes that enable a lot more participation and equal and democracy and our decision making. But I still think there’s a role for someone who pulls that together and can own that. And I think what now more than ever in a time where we’re seeing around the world, very that strong man leadership, that kind of autocratic top-down follow me leadership, um, is a sign that people are looking for leadership and that they are scared and that they need someone who can kind of hold things together to enable them to have enough [inaudible] to be able to take a risk, to trust enough, to take a step, to take a risk. So that sort of leadership is more important than ever, but we don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water, like I don’t think, and it’s really interesting seeing how COVID is playing out where you’ve got those leaders who are very top down and very strong. Um, and we’re not seeing really great results in terms of how things are playing out because people are become paralyzed, waiting for direction. Um, and sometimes those calls have been great because there’s no way that any one leader or even government can be across all of those issues. So there’s a different kind of leadership. Like you look at, um, people like Jacinda done in New Zealand where right from the beginning, she spelt out the problem. And then she explained to people that there were stages around how they were going to manage it. And she gave people the information up front saying there are, I think, four stages to this response. We’re starting here. Once we see these kinds of things, we’ll wrap it up and we need your cooperation with this. It’s only going to work with you. So there was an invitation in, there was trust of the people to give them information so that they can make decisions for themselves. And it was enrolling their confidence. It was saying, are you going to work with us to make this happen? Because you are part of a whole, and it’s, it’s a very different kind of leadership model. Even within the climate movement. I noticed there’s like a lot of campaigning organizations are feel the pressure to come up with the answer, the campaign we’re going to push for this one thing. We’re going to build power around it and make this happen. Um, and that’s important and it’s, it can happen very, especially when things need to have a very quickly, but at the same time, I think we missed an opportunity where there might be opportunities for real transformative change by actually going okay, here are some principles that we can work behind. Here’s the vision that we all agree that we’re working together, engage people around that conversation about what they want, which enables people to then go out and start taking action in concert. So it’s more like an orchestra, like people are doing different things, people playing with different instruments. But if you look at the whole, they’re creating beautiful music because it’s, it’s aligned with, um, a certain direction. And in that case, the leadership is more like a conductor of an orchestra. It’s a very important role. Um, but it’s, they’re not there to tell each instrument each musician how to play the instrument.

Morag Gamble: And I think you touched on a really important point, right? At the beginning of, of how you describing that too, was about taking the fear out of it. And, and that, you know, when you get sort of a sense of like, Oh, I’ve got to wait until I’m, you know, I know what’s happening in the leadership will tell me what’s going on and it’s kind of secret and we’ll find out when we need to, whereas actually having this transparency and having the capacity to be part of that decision making process and to, to actually feel uplifted and supported and enabled and empowered through the leadership that exists, I think is a really amazing thing. And like you’re saying, it’s when you see that happen in community groups too. I mean, I know from, uh, even from community garden groups that I’ve worked with, when there is an engaging inclusive process that people understand and that they’re taken along, it doesn’t really, there’s sort of no real, even no real central boss at that point, you know? And like it’s really important that there’s that understanding from a, from a group perspective about, about how change happens in about how you can engage in that and, and, and step in and out if you want to not always have to be part of it. I mean, I think there’s a lot of stress and pressure that’s put on groups when they feel like, Oh, I’ve got to be part of this committee. And then there’s all these rules that apply. And then, you know, it just kind of sort of fall in on themselves where a different type of leadership I think is really needed in, in all scales, from, from our governments through to our community organizations, whether they be formal or informal groups. So you mentioned a few, um, principals before. Do you want to just touch a little bit more, what you feel those principles of change our leadership? Um, how are you describing those that..

Dr. Amanda Cahill: With a few different things in my head? So just going back to, I guess what you were just saying then it’s, um, I guess a question around always questioning, like who needs to be involved at what time, for what purpose? I think there’s something, we are the go, we need a complete flat structure, or we need a top down kind of leadership structure, but actually there are ways to engage people, the right people at the right time to the right level, because I think sometimes we go too far with the community groups and everyone, like you said, everyone has to be involved in every decision. Then there’s endless meetings and nothing actually gets done. Um, and there’s a really good paper that was written, I think in the mid 70s, by someone in the feminist movement called the Tyranny of Structurelessness, which is available online, which I recommend everyone have a read off because, you know, we’re so committed to principles around democracy and participation and equity, um, that sometimes we don’t have the right processes set up to enable people to do what they need to do at the level that they want to get engaged in. Cause particularly between that society wide change, not everyone wants to be involved. Some people just want to get on with it and that’s fair enough. Like I don’t actually want to have to manage all of my own water systems and energy systems. I want people who know what they’re doing to take care of that so I can get on and do what I do. So I think that’s a really good principle around leadership and groups, I guess, change. I’m thinking about change. I think in terms of working with people, knowing that the nexus between leadership and change, I think about change from a sort of stages of change model, which I learned about when I was doing health promotion work with Aboriginal communities, which is accepting that different people are on that, um, different stages of that change cycle. Some people, um, even aware of the need for change. And so the work that you do with them is about, um, you know, raising that awareness. Um, some people are aware that there’s a problem and things need to change. Um, but they don’t see how it’s important to them. So how do you actually get that point where they’re concerned or they can see how it’s relevant to them? That’s the work that needs to be done. And then when they get to a point going, Oh, something needs to change. Um, then it’s what DNA to arm them with intent. So they can actually take measures to move in the right direction. So that’s at capacity building or resourcing stage. Then people can go through that and then go, actually, I’m, I’m ready to, um, not just take action, but to lead other people, we’ll bring community together. That’s a different kind of, um, support that you need to provide people like that. And so, and then people move around that, that cycle of change and coming into different parts or move backwards. So I think that, um, that’s what we’re trying to do is meet people where they’re at on that cycle and then give them the resources they need or the knowledge they need or the core networks that they need to actually, um, keep moving along that cycle.

Morag Gamble: So what does that look like when you..people work with you? So you get invited to come and work with, uh, with a community and, and then what do you do? How does, how does it actually work?

Dr. Amanda Cahill: Um, well, I guess it’s like, you’ve probably divided up the way I can afford. So one, the, the actual, what most people know about what we do is we go and work in regional areas. Um, so far we’ve been going since beginning of 2018 with the Next Economy. So most of that work has been focused on, um, how the energy transition and how reducing and absorbing emissions across all sectors of the economy can create jobs and opportunities in regional areas. Um, so sometimes that’s a workshop, um, that we’ve had have been funded by government to do, or a local group, maybe an environment group, or the local councils to do some training or presentation, um, around those aspects. So, and sometimes that’s supporting projects on the ground. So Byron Bay, for example, particularly there was going to zero emissions within 10 years. So we supported them on that process, project management side of that. Um, so this work on the ground, we do a lot of, um, sort of more what we’re calling education. So actually doing work to try and highlight that we’ve got so many different economic possibilities and options to build a different kind of economy. So that’s more that public facing presentations, media webinars, things like that. Um, increasingly we’re doing a lot of work with decision makers within often state government whether in a movement or industry like energy companies who are trying to get their head around what their options are. So we’ve done some policy design work, um, or just helping the strategy. I actual direct advice around what the next steps are, and we’re developing a report for the Queensland government right now around economic stimulus ideas. Um, and then finally, it’s sort of a new area that we’ve worked out that there’s actually lots of amazing people out there who are working on that edge of economic transformation, whether they’re in the food movement or housing, or they’re often small organizations, often isolated, very under resourced and, but doing amazing work. So we’re trying to figure out how do we actually provide a coordination or support role to the leaders who are already there trying to do systems change, work, to amplify their efforts. And we’re looking at some programs like for what that leadership program looks like next year.

Morag Gamble: Amazing amount of workAnd I it’s quite, it’s, it’s such, um, the change that’s happening in the world is changing. Things are changing so fast and I’m wondering, you know, like you, you had been focused before on, on, you know, it was the energy transition. I know you still are. Um, and particularly, you know, looking at the work and how it influences our response to climate change and all of that’s embedded within there and, and, you know, um, uh, women’s empowerment and all these, you know, health and wellbeing, all of these different themes that kind of embedded within what you are calling this sort of this economic transition. And, you know, maybe, maybe you could just speak a little bit to, um, was sort of two questions starting to emerge here. One was about why is it that you’ve picked? Uh, you know, this may seem really obvious to you, but I’d love if you do just kind of articulated, is that, why have you picked the economy as the thing that you talk about that represents all of the rest of this? And then, um, how is your response changed or has it not with what’s happening now with the Coronavirus has that changed the way that you’re working in the way that you see that your work emerging from now on. Two questions bundled up there.

Dr. Amanda Cahill: They’re great questions. Um, so the economy, um, well, the way, I guess the way I think about the economy, it’s just how it’s just the systems and processes we use to produce things, exchange them, consume them, um, organize work, and also what we do with any surplus or profit that comes out of that. So, um, we’re trying to let, so to me, it’s how we live. It’s how we do all those things that actually support our living. And I’m not just talking about the cash-based, capitalist society. Um, if we took all of the volunteers, unpaid volunteers, formal volunteer programs out of our economy, it would collapse like w uh, hospitals at schools. Everything relies on that. Um, households the amount of unpaid labor and caring work that’s important. So it’s actually, um, to me having really creative conversations about, well, how do we do things? How do we get, what we need to live is, is the basis of everything. Um, so we can do it so many different ways. We have so many different options. We can be so much more creative about that in terms of how things have changed with the current moment. Um, I guess, I mean, doing this work for a long time, and even at the center for social change, we’re talking about economic change. And even with the energy transition, we couldn’t get cut through, like people were like, Oh, that’s interesting, but you know, people aren’t ready to talk about it. When I first started talking about the energy transition work in 2014, literally had government leaders saying, Oh, people aren’t ready to talk about that yet. Maybe in five years yet, we know we need to try to change, to transition, but, you know, later, and I think, and even the public, people think it’s really interesting, but they couldn’t say the, how, how are we going to take actions on it? Um, so for example, there’s been discussions about things like the Universal Basic Income or job guarantees or cooperatives, but it wasn’t landing in Australia because a lot of people were too comfortable and there wasn’t really that push to actually make radical change or it seemed a bit risky. Now, I think everyone’s kind of everything’s up for grabs. Um, and a lot of the assumptions we had about the economy have been shattered. So even that the role that government is playing right now is completely different to what they were saying six months ago. Like it was like governments shouldn’t be involved in the economy and now dictating everything that’s gonna happen. So, um, I guess for us, it’s meant I’ve I had to be very about the economy it was and why we focus so much on the energy transition was because people were sort of saying, well, what should we do about the energy transition? There was sort of, we had to be pragmatic and make what people were needing and what they’re asking for. And even in coal mining communities were asking you to come and talk about the shift to renewable energy. So I met that need there, but I think now there’s an opening to actually have much bolder, more radical conversations about how the whole system needs to change, rather than just whether we get electricity from this source to that source. We can actually be more direct about saying, we need to think about how we do that. Like, are we just backing in big private companies and doing business as usual? Should we take public control over all of our utilities to make sure everyone has access as a public right, or service or human rights? Or should we be going to small scale cooperative community owned systems that have a whole economic democracy element to it? Or is it a combination of all those? We can actually be much more ambitious now about saying, look, we’ve got an opportunity here to, to shape the economy in a completely and shift the direction in a different way.

Morag Gamble: I think, you know, that the opportunity that’s presented right now to, to, to put things on the table that they’ve been on the, been around the periphery for a long time, you know, decades, these ideas have been around and they’ve been experimented with, you know, child around the world, you know, experienced communities that are doing amazing things, but it’s always been seen as something that’s fringe. And I really feel like now is a possibility to, to bring those, like you said, into, into part of that mix into to inform something that might happen. And I’m really curious because you talk to people in all different levels of government all the time. Now, do you feel like there’s an openness to this? I mean, you’re saying that this is what you’re wanting to put forward, but, you know, have you bounced these ideas off them yet and, and seeing what they, how they respond?

Dr. Amanda Cahill: Uh, there’s sort of two levels to that. So even before the coronavirus hit um, we were doing some regional work and what’s really surprising to me that, um, people in local councils and just general business community people, it just people in, you know, in places like central Queensland or Southeast Queensland. So Southwest Queensland, where they were the ones bringing up things like, um, UBI and, um, things like cooperatives taking and community owned, renewable energy, or, um, completely different radical approaches to waste and zero waste. So these, these terms were like coming out of people’s mouths that we weren’t raising, they were raising. So I think there was an appetite and it was all around resilience and the feeling that people have been left, especially in regional areas of doing a tough one, a number of fronts, and they didn’t have that resilience on the basics that they needed. So people were talking about food justice and local food systems, for example, and what’s happened to agriculture and, um, the power of the supermarkets and taking away people’s ability to just buy and grow food locally. Um, so these radical ideas where we’re bubbling there. So there’s definitely an openness there in terms of, um, second federal government. I think that it’s been surprising to me, um, how open they are to hearing the ideas from regional areas about how they can build economic resilience. Um, so I, I literally sent a whole bunch of emails to advise ministerial advisors, uh, the state and some federal level thinking that this was about six weeks ago thinking they would, um, if I got a response, it would be come back to us in a couple of months when things have settled down, I literally got three emails within five minutes back from ministerial advisors, like top advisors and saying, I’m really sorry. I can’t talk to you today. Do you have time tomorrow? And I was like, Whoa, but it was unexpected. I’m not ready to do it. Um, yeah. So I think they’re desperate. I think, you know, and I was framing it as look we’ve been doing work on at a regional level on energy transition ideas. Um, you know, I think you can keep moving in the direction that, you know, you need to go in because behind closed doors, they all say, yes, we know we need to act on climate change, but it’s whether or not they feel like they’ve built the political commission to do what has been the block. Whereas now they’re like, can you show us how we can do what we need to do and bring people along with us, but that window, you know, how long that’s going to be open? I don’t know.

Morag Gamble: So that was my next question is like, so the community saying, this is what we want, governments are saying, we’re looking for a different way forward and we get it. What’s the next step? How, you know, how does then this change actually happen because we’re kind of at this, I feel like, well, I mean, it’s a simplification. We were at this point now this bifurcation point, whereas everything’s fluid at the moment. And then as we emerge out of, out of this crisis that we’re in right now, there can be this, um, recovery project. That’s, you know, an amplification of, of business as usual to try and get people back on track. Or it can be something more along what you’re talking about. So what is what needs to happen right now to see his head on the path that you’re describing? The community’s asking for that, you know, governments are saying, they know the need that we know that, you know, society needs communities need the planet needs. How can, what, what needs to happen right now? I mean, I know that this is a huge question and I don’t expect that you can answer because that’s like the whole [inaudible] problems, but, you know, but it is a big question, isn’t it? Because right now it feels like there’s a sense of urgency about speaking up right now about the things that matter and putting on the table firmly, real and viable alternatives that work that people want. And that economically actually makes sense.

Dr. Amanda Cahill: Um, well I think it’s going to be messy and I think that I’m already starting to see just in the last week or so, the number of voices who are clamoring for attention around their economic stimulus ideas have expanded exponentially. We do know that the minerals council of Australia, for example, has been very quick off the Mark in putting in their ideas and demands for how economic recovery should go. And they’ve got direct access to the prime minister’s office. Um, you know, the head of this COVID, um, advisory group is, you know. So it, you know, that they’re and how much that, but I, I know, I think something has fundamentally shifted. The Prime Minister himself is saying we can’t go back to business as usual. So, but what does he mean by that? I don’t know. We’ve got big groups like, um, get up and some of the climate action, climate groups, um, and environment groups, and mobilizing their membership around key demands and trying to encourage people to get directly in contact with to say, you know, we want you to build back better. We don’t want you to build back to the status quo. There’s a movement called #gobackbetter, um, started circulating through social media. So I think there’s a momentum and an energy around different ideas and people wanting something different is definitely there. And I think the politicians are hearing it. Um, which ideas take hold, you know, who knows what’s going to take hold? Um, I think that’s how change happens. Yeah. It’s kind of, kind of that sort of things bubbling underneath the surface. And then which thing pops up and is going to actually take root and holes and grow into something. So it’s just going to get squashed or, um, covered or..

Morag Gamble: What do you see happening around the world at the moment in those sorts of things that are popping up. I mean, there’s things popping up in Australia, but you’re seeing other things happening in other parts that we could, you know, bring forward part of our conversation more here.

Dr. Amanda Cahill: Tell you the truth. I haven’t been looking at that much. We’ve actually, we’ve planning to do a webinar series through the next economy, looking at how different countries are responding to the economic stimulus, but interviewing people who are working very much on economic transformation and have been for decades to get their commentary on what the opportunities are to do things differently. And what’s popping up in terms of different economic movements. Um, so if people interested in that they should sign up, I guess, to the next economy page. And we can talk about that.

Morag Gamble: How do they get on to finding.. How do they get onto your list of information. Can you share..

Dr. Amanda Cahill: If you just go to the Next Economy’s website which is there’s a subscribe button, and then we’ll send you out any notifications of activities. Um, so that’s the webinar series. We’ll be directly, um, talking about that. But, um, at the moment I haven’t actually been looking, I’ve been trying to spend the time, um, where things are slowing down on. I’m not traveling like a crazy person to actually just come back, um, and reflect on where we’re at. Um, and try and make sense of the local first. So I haven’t been really looking globally at, but I know there’s been some really interesting webinars that Naomi Klein’s been doing. Um, there was one that the Australia Institute this morning interviewing Joseph Stiglitz, which apparently haven’t looked at yet, but it’s quite revolutionary and quite inspiring. Um, uh, I think we could also not just look at how response is happening now, but also previous responses, like in times when Greece was facing the austerity, how communities organized and mobilized, um, and that led to political change. There’s been some interesting stuff in Spain as well. Um, Argentina about 20 years ago where we had workers taking back over factories when they were closed. So I think it’s also looking at other times and looking at how communities would responded. Detroit and the growth of the food movement in Detroit. Um, so I think there’s plenty of examples that we can, we can look to.

Morag Gamble: And even it’s not such a sort of an immediate thing, but even looking at what’s what happened in Maleny for example, you know, it was a dying rural town. How did it rebuild itself through these of cooperatives and women’s groups and, you know, local banks and local economic systems. And, you know, it’s quite an interesting story, the Maleny story, even, you know, here in Queensland.

Dr. Amanda Cahill: Yeah. And there’s other examples popping up now with a very similar model. Like you’ve got Preston, but they’re called movements or, um, you know yeah. There’s things happening all over the world right now. Yeah.

Morag Gamble: So, you know, sharing the, sharing these and, and, um, sharing the stories of these. Cause, you know, I, I don’t know how much the stories of other ones being told, but I know the story of Maleny really hasn’t been shared that very much at all. And it’s quite a remarkable story. Well, thank you so much for joining me today and, um, um,I look forward to our ongoing conversations because I know that, um, you know, that’s something that we do all the time. We get on and have a chat about what’s going on in the world, what leadership is, where the change needs to happen and, and I’m constantly inspired by the work that you do. And, and I know that everyone who’s listening to this is going to be signing up for, um, for the webinar series and, uh, do you have a newsletter as well that you send out? Or what, how does it work?

Dr. Amanda Cahill: Yes, we’ve got one in process at the moment.

Morag Gamble: Excellent. Yeah.

Dr. Amanda Cahill: Well maybe next time I can interview you.

Morag Gamble: Yeah, let’s do that. That sounds like fun. Well thank you so much. And I’ll put down all the links of things that you’ve mentioned and, um, ways to get in touch with Amanda as well. Well take care and thanks for everything you’re doing.

Morag Gamble: So thanks for tuning in to the sense- making in a changing world podcast today, it’s been a real pleasure to have your company. I invite you to subscribe and receive notification of each new weekly episode with more wonderful stories, ideas, inspiration, and common sense for living and working regenerative and core positive permaculture thinking of design interaction in this changing world. I’m including a transcript below and a link also to my four-part permaculture series, really looking at what is permaculture and how to make it your livelihood too. So join me again in the next episode where we talk with another fascinating guest, I look forward to seeing you there.


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