Your Environmental Road Trip

Mark Dixon – YERT!

YERT's Mark Dixon
YERT's Mark Dixon

Mark Dixon overhauled his life a few years ago.  He left his job in Silicon Valley, and with two friends — Ben Evans and Julie Evans, spent a year in an SUV hybrid traveling around the US, talking to all kinds of Americans about climate change.

Thus was born YERT – Your Environmental Road Trip.  Mark, Ben and Julie filmed over 500 hours of footage, talking to environmental activists, scientists, and innovators.  They met with a scientist converting annual crops to perennial ones, a 92 year old man who’s been living for six decades in an Idaho cave, and an engineer who wants to convert our highway system into a giant solar energy collection + distribution network.

And the YERT team lived by strict sustainability rules — the three of them together used only one shoebox of waste per month.  It wasn’t easy, with every restaurant presenting a new tableful of challenges.  They survived the voyage, and you can see YERT films here, and read more about the project too. 

Produced for Rustbelt Radio.


Ep. 35: The King of Love & The Political Cartoonist

Another World Episode 35

Ahmed Seyar Zia
Ahmed Seyar Zia

Ahmad Seyar Zia is, as he has proclaimed himself to be, the King of Love.  He is a young Afghan man, studying abroad in India now.  Born in Kabul, raised in different places around Afghanistan and Pakistan, he has developed his own life philosophies that, he finds, hold him apart from most other young people around him.  

 In today’s interview, Ahmad talks about growing up in the tumultuous past decades of Aghanistan, of the religious and philosophical system he’s developed, of taking up Tae Kwan Do after his brother lost his leg in a mine explosion, and why he’s intent on returning to his country. 

Ian Knox is one of Northern Ireland’s premier political cartoonists.  After studying for a career in architecture, he made his way into the world of cartooning and now contributes to a whole array of outlets – including The Irish News, Hearts & Minds, Sky News, and The Guardian.  He talks about why he likes to annoy people, how he knows if his cartoons succeed in their attempts to shove his opinions down the audience’s throats, which politicians he most likes to draw, and how he survives his daily threat of a heart attack.

Ep. 30: Freshwater Pearl Mussels

 Another World Episode 30

Conor in the River
Conor in the River

Freshwater pearl mussels may be the most boring things some have ever seen — as Bill Oddie alleged — but they are the stuff of Conor Wilson’s study + life.  In Northern Ireland freshwater pearl mussels are under threat, from agricultural run-off, overfishing and pearl hunters.  The mussels are big and boring, with gills, a stomach, and a foot, but no brain or personality.  No matter their dullness, they matter a great deal to river life.

Conor explains his work with mussels — which he does for Quercus at Queen’s University Belfast.  He’ll be spending a good time alone in the rivers of Northern Ireland, tracking down mussels, reintroducing new mussels into the environment, zapping fish, and avoiding the temptation to search for a fortune in pearls.


Ep. 27: Happiness & The Politics of Well-Being

 Another World Episode 27

Picasso's Joie de Vivre
Graeme's Chosen Image of Happiness: Picasso's Joie de Vivre

Episode 27 has Graeme Watson talking about the philosophy of happiness and the politics of well-being.  He’s finishing his PhD in political theory at Queen’s, examining different approaches to achieving happiness and how politicians (especially those in the UK) have brought the notion from twee to power.

Graeme discusses the ascendancy of the notion ‘Well-Being’ into a watchword of Tony Blair’s New Labor and David Cameron’s New Tories, as well as predictions that it will be one of the ‘Big Ideas of the 21st Century’.  He explains how the personal is being made political and how the consumer industry of happiness is feeding into a new kind of politics — attracting Middle Class Lefty Guardian Readers, among others.

Plus, Graeme offers some visions of our coming post-human future, his low-grade hedonism, some secrets to happiness, and his planned cult.