What we learned from Season 2 of our podcast

Solutions don't come in boxes.

What we learned from Season 2 of our podcast

In media production, the second season of a project is often the hardest. While there’s a long list of reasons for this, the inherent challenge is how to replicate the rush of first love a second time around. After such an incredible lineup of guests in the first season of Hope Is A Verb, could we do it again?

Less than five minutes into our first conversation, the answer was a clear, resounding ‘yes.’ This new chapter inspired us to upgrade our audio equipment, broaden our search, and dig deeper behind some of the stories.

The conversations were recorded across different time zones from Peru to Vanuatu to Denmark, with the demographics of our guests varying as widely as the problems they tackle. Some were in their twenties at the beginning of their mission, others were rolling up their sleeves in their eighties, and one was navigating the question of deciding on the right time to step aside from decades of activism.

All of them proved, once again, that the only prerequisite for changing the world is a willingness to take the first step. Here’s what we learned.

Problems rarely come in boxes; neither do solutions

As much as we try to silo global challenges into different sectors, the world is messy, complicated, and intricately connected. This means we never change one part of it without impacting another.

A natural disaster might be a climate issue, but within seconds it can become a humanitarian and economic crisis as well. Thankfully, solutions tend to scale the same way. Many of our guests set out to mend one thing, only to discover that their work was tending to numerous problems.

Our conversation with activist Flora Vano showed us that climate justice isn't just about the environment. By training women in Vanuatu to lead the disaster response, Flora has created a wave of social change that’s making room for women in decision-making spaces and challenging traditional gender norms.  

Entrepreneur Chesca Colloredo-Mansfeld understood from the early days of her mission that creating an affordable, accessible solution to clubfoot was not just about feet. It was a way to unlock future possibilities for millions of children in low-income counties who would otherwise endure an adulthood of stigma and shame.

If the best solutions can’t be contained in boxes, it explains why outside-the-box thinking works so well.

In the spring of 2020, while most of us were attempting lockdown sourdough, Aidan Reilly and his friends used their break from college to chip away at America’s food crisis. Instead of taking the traditional 'identify problem, come up with solution' approach, they questioned if two of our biggest challenges—agricultural waste and food scarcity—could help solve each other. It worked. By connecting farms to food banks, their Farmlink Project has rescued hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fresh produce and delivered it to families in need.

It's a similar story for Ronni Abergel. A library is not the obvious solution to mending a divided world, but by swapping books for people, Ronni's Human Library Organisation has created a safe space for communities in 80 countries to have the uncomfortable but necessary conversations to break down echo chambers and un-judge each other.

Charity 2.0

One of the big common threads in all our conversations this season was that the best way to help someone is to empower them. As the world’s problems become increasingly complex, traditional charity models are no longer sustainable because the challenges are outlasting funding and resources.

In the wake of the Pakistan floods in 2022, architect Yasmeen Lari vowed to build a million homes for the displaced. Instead of taking a quick-fix approach, she redesigned the whole model of disaster management with a zero-carbon, zero-waste, zero-dollar plan known as Barefoot Social Architecture.

By empowering impacted communities with the tools and education to rebuild their homes and economies, she not only helped them recover from one climate disaster, but increased their resilience to weather all the storms that will inevitably follow.

This long-lens approach to mending is something we also spoke about with biologist Tino Aucca Chutas in Peru. During his 30-year quest to restore the degraded ecosystems of the Andes, he’s empowered thousands of local communities to plant 10 million trees, not just with seedlings, but by reconnecting people to the roots of their Inca heritage.

We learned that there are many ways to empower people. For Eden Tadesse, her tool of choice was the internet. By connecting refugees with online education, counselling, and remote work, she's giving them access to the three things that help them become independent and create better lives in their host countries.

It’s worth pointing out that this empowerment model isn’t exclusive to humans. One of our most surprising and delightful conversations was with Johannes Fritz, a maverick conservationist in Austria who is saving the endangered northern bald ibis by teaching the birds a new migration route to help mitigate the dangers of climate change.

Using an ultralight aircraft, this human-led migration is not designed to make the birds dependent on Johannes and his team, but rather equip them with new internal maps to help them return to the wild independently and thrive in a changing environment for generations to come. We’ve got to say, this episode really turned our ideas of conservation upside down. 

Data-driven hope

Our final lesson was inspired by data scientist Hannah Ritchie, who made the radically hopeful argument that we have, for the first time in history, the means to achieve true sustainability for both people and planet.

Drawing on the data behind human progress, Hannah presented a very different view of the world to the doomsday version in mainstream media. For her, this kind of qualified optimism is an essential tool for navigating the challenges of our time. When we see that progress is possible, we are empowered to keep creating it.

We learned that hope is evidence-based. The more examples we see of hope in action, the more likely we are to take action ourselves. This is why sharing stories of progress matters.

We walked away from every conversation this season reminded that change is possible, even in the face of insurmountable odds. At any given moment, there are people working on the frontlines of climate change, poverty, education and healthcare, who show up every day to create a fairer and more sustainable world beyond their lifetime.

We wondered, if our guests inspired this hope in us, what inspired them? It was our opening question every episode, and despite their differences in geography, background and industry most of our guests gave the same answer: the next generation.

They spoke about the passion they'd witnessed in young protesters and advocates fighting for a better future. They marvelled at their broader view of the world, their ability to call out intolerance in real-time and how they were harnessing technology to create solutions that weren't possible a decade ago.

Young people often get a bad rap, but if there's one thing we're taking away from our conversations this season, it's that our future is in very safe hands.

Hope Is A Verb, Season Two

How just one truck can save the world

Meet Aidan Reilly, one of the cofounders of the Farmlink Project. In 2020, Aidan and his friends rented a U-haul with an idea to help their local food bank. Today, their 'one truck' mission has flourished into a movement, spanning the North American continent and delivering recovered food to people in need.

Listen to Episode 1

Rising seas, women rising

Meet Flora Vano, a climate activist who has rallied a female-led response to the climate crisis in Vanuatu. Fighting climate change with female empowerment, Flora has taken her mission to the global stage, including the recent COP28.

Listen to Episode 2

The library where you borrow humans

Meet Ronni Abergel, founder of the Human Library Organisation where, instead of books, real people are on loan to readers. For over two decades, this global movement has created a safe space to talk openly about taboo topics. At Ronni’s library, a conversation with a refugee, a transgender or a bipolar person is equally possible, open, and transformative.

Listen to Episode 3

The 'miracle' treatment for 80,0000 kids

Meet Chesca Colloredo Mansfeld, a social entrepreneur who co-founded Miracle Feet: a low-cost, non-surgical treatment that has made an extraordinary impact on the lives of over 80,000 children born with clubfoot in low and middle income countries.

Listen to Episode 4

Flight school for birds

Meet Johannes Fritz, a maverick biologist and conservationist who is reintroducing the endangered Northern Bald Ibis across Europe. Using an ultralight aircraft, Johannes has taught the birds new migration routes to help them survive in the face of climate change.

Listen to Episode 5

Can the internet can help the refugee crisis?

Meet Eden Tadesse, a social entrepreneur and digital innovator from Ethiopia who created Invicta, a social impact platform that connects refugees and internally displaced youth with courses, skills training, and job opportunities online.

Listen to Episode 6

Not the End of the World

Meet Hannah Ritchie, a data scientist and author of Not the End of the World, a book that makes the radically hopeful argument that we may be on track to create true sustainability for the first time in history. This is data driven, qualified optimism at its best!

Listen to Episode 7

Indigenous knowledge to save the Andes

Meet 'Tino' Aucca Chutas, a biologist in Peru who has worked with communities across the Andes to plant almost 10 million trees to combat climate change. Reviving the practices of his Inca ancestors, he has secured local water supplies and empowered people to create change.

Listen to Episode 8

Zero carbon. Zero waste. Zero poverty.

Meet Yasmeen Lari, 'starchitect' turned humanitarian, who, in the wake of the 2022 floods in Pakistan, vowed to build one million zero-carbon, disaster-resistant homes for displaced families. It's an astounding feat and one she's is bringing to life, thanks to a zero-charity model.

Listen to Episode 9

Fix the news

It's no secret that the news media is in crisis: sweeping layoffs across newsrooms and consumer engagement at an all time low. But what if we could fix it? In this bonus episode Gus chats about his mission to prove that another form of journalism is possible - one that informs us about the world, and inspires hope for the future of our planet.

Listen to episode 10

Thanks so much for your support of this podcast! Our guest list for Season 3 is well underway and we'll be back with third chapter of stories later this year.

With love,


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