Onions. We help you discover your many layers. You peel, you cry but you wake up with fresh eyes. This is a podcast about hope and change making.
What actions can you take to make a difference in the current climate crisis? How can we care better? The #Changemakers series brings hope back onto the table by interviewing various people who are working on the ground to create change. Learn about what and how they are doing it.
Our #conversations series open up spaces for critical awareness and conscious discourse.
Madeleine McGirk is the managing director of ITAC (International Teaching Artists Collaborative). This episode delves into the value and impact of socially engaged arts in bringing about bottom up social change. We discussed the possibilities of socially engaged processes going into different spaces like businesses and tech to provide new and creative perspectives while diversifying income streams for artists to be able to sustain their practice.
Learn more about ITAC: https://www.itac-collaborative.com/
Change cannot happen without discomfort. Change needs friction. Do you play the game and climb the ladder to be able to create change? Does the narrative of power and control serve us? What drives your need for change? What are the needs of your people? This conversation weaves in and out of folk tales, trees, honest discussions around the processes of change making and more… Stay till the end to hear The Tale of Twenty Twenty!
Orode Faka is a community artist, theatre maker and writer. Director of R.O.C.K.S! International Arts, an interdisciplinary artist collective committed to using their crafts to spark new ideas and innovate proactive and sustainable actions in the practice of arts for social change.
Check her out here: https://www.sixwayfinder.com/orode-faka
This episode is a part of a mini series on wayfinding as I talk to artists I’m working with on the artist-composer residency with Social Innovation Exchange.
What is your story? What are the chapters you want to write?
Welcome back to our mini series on wayfinding. This episode is with Josiane Smith, who is a poet and connector, and is currently the Global Programmes Lead at the Social Innovation Exchange (SIX). This episode is about finding hope through healing and features some beautiful poetry!
20 reflections from your host Fié Neo to end the year!
Thank you all for being on this journey with me.
If you'd like to say hello, share any thoughts or be updated through email, drop me a message via
What do tap dancing, music and social change have in common? How can we create environments where dreams are possible?
Corina Kwami and I talked about learning to listen through songs and tap dancing, about losing the ability to learn together, about what care means during a pandemic.
Corina Kwami is a Renaissance woman whose mission is to celebrate jazz and what it offers innovators on and off stage. On stage as a public speaker, singer or tap dancer, she has performed in countries across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia with her own band and as a guest, as a TEDx speaker and in the innovation lab space. She has been recognised for her "impressive grasp of what jazz can teach us about leadership, partnerships, and innovative thinking" at the UNLEASH Innovation Lab. Her work cuts across the arts and sciences, music and dance and recalls the past to inspire future innovation. Based in London, she plays with her band Corina Kwami & the Swing Selection, collaborates in the jazz, tap and swing circuit and continues to explore ways of building linkages between the arts and sciences.
Check out more at: www.corinakwami.com
*Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth (43:25)
🌟This episode features some live singing and tap dancing. This is part of a mini series on wayfinding as I talk to artists I’m working with on this residency. We share our respective wayfinding journeys through the chaos we live in right now, in the hope that we can offer some comfort through our art and music.
Eily Aurora shares her passion for improvising with nature. Growing up in the countryside, she learned from a young age from local Canadian indigenous people how to listen, learn and communicate with the natural world.
To make the song of nature audible, she uses The Music of the Plants device. It's an instrument that can perceive the electromagnetic variations emitted from the surface of plant leaves and the root system and translate them into sound. Nature is not only alive, but is aware and responds to her surroundings. In fact, trees have up to 20 senses to take in their environment!
Wherever you are, may this podcast help you tune-out the noise of the city, and tune-in to the frequency and endless wisdom of nature.
Eily is a singer/songwriter, harpist, Harp Faery clown, and social innovation facilitator in Calgary, Canada. She has performed across stages in North America for over a decade and has designed creative and participatory methods for mental wellness at cSPACE King Edward Arts Hub as a member of Alberta Social Innovation Connect’s Community Catalyst Program. As a systemic constellations facilitator, she presents and speaks about her research on the power of soundwork to impact community wisdom internationally.
This episode is a part of a mini series on wayfinding as I talk to artists I’m working with on the artist-composer residency with Social Innovation Exchange. We share our respective wayfinding journeys through the chaos we live in right now, in the hope that we can offer some comfort through our art and music.
SIX is like a spark in the system that brings together different unlikely groups to connect and act. They create spaces for different stakeholders in an ecosystem to convene. So Jung (or "So") shares their Wayfinder project as well as their philosophy and processes at SIX, very much about relationships and exchange. She shares the importance of relationships and safe spaces for honesty and trust to pave way for action.
So has lived and worked in various countries, from South Korea to Mexico and currently resides in the UK. She is passionate about connecting people and developing social innovation capacity through her work at Social Innovation Exchange.
This is the start of a mini series on wayfinding as I talk to artists I’m working with on this residency. We share our respective wayfinding journeys through the chaos we live in right now, in the hope that we can offer some comfort through our art and music.
We are at a crossroad, in a climate emergency. Earth is burning and it seems like the only solutions we have are in tech and renewable energy. Are they really sustainable for people and environment? This panel discussion focuses on social enterprises working with community, ecology and care. We will discuss the future of work within the social and environmental care sector and how jobs can be created with communities, for communities.
There is another story, another narrative, another way of being that doesn't have to come at the expense of our well-being.
Event was live streamed on Stories of Asia Facebook page. For more live events, follow Onions Talk on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/onionstalk
Juliana Adam, CEO
SMU Lien centre for social innovation
Christy Davis, Executive Director
06:20 Interrupting racism requires courage and intentionality
18:30 Understanding privilege and how to be more aware
22:50 Micro Aggressions
29:50 “Being told to act more Indian”
36:00 Strategies to deal with micro-aggressions
42:14 What can you do to further this conversation? 10 takeaways
Referenced books: White fragility by Robin Diangelo and So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo
Articles to read:
“Penatlah”: Singaporean playwright Alfian Sa’at, on racism and Chinese majoritarianism in Singapore
Why Chinese Singaporeans Telling Alfian Sa’at To Ignore Racist Remarks Is Chinese Privilege
Beyond the Hijab
This episode took courage to produce. It’s a hush hush topic in Singapore (a country with longstanding tradition of censorship), people don’t like to talk about it and it’s often seen as controversial. But this was something we felt we had to talk about to open up this conversation. So, let’s talk about race. Adeeb is the Artistic Director of The Second Breakfast Company, and has also worked with Bhumi Collective and Adeeb & Shai. Adeeb is also a founding member of Impromptu Meetings, and works with young people as a freelance drama educator. 9:20 Did the #BLM conversation translate into racial conversations in Singapore’s context?
11:43 Making sense of racism
12:19 Having the right words for these experiences
16:30 Brown face in Singapore, backlash against people who stood up against the brown face saga
25:30 Theatre in Singapore to open up difficult conversations
27:00 National Arts Council gatekeeping and censorship
37:00 Curation and control through licensing
What is humane technology? Are we gearing up for a digital revolution? How do we democratise tech? How can we be co-creators? Why are we not creating apps that help us maintain relationships?
Pawel is a lecturer of Interaction Design at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. Feel free to connect with him at email@example.com
How are Ecuadorians dealing with Covid-19? What are some coping strategies? How is mental health seen in Ecuador? Adriana Alzamora shares her budding entrepreneurship journey setting up a psychotherapy centre called Psicocare in the capital, Quito. Frustrated by the lack of jobs in this bleak economic landscape, four of her friends and her decided to start their own company. #mentalhealth
Instagram | Facebook
Iris shares their experience growing up in Hawaii and the islands’ difficult colonisation history. We discussed how one agreement with the United States made months too early missed them the chance to decolonise themselves under international law, the importance of fables, myths and stories in Hawaiian culture, the need to introduce alternative narratives to counter the dominant western worldview, a different way of looking at land ownership - one that doesn’t belong to people but Gods, the commodification of Hawaiian culture (or not), the impact of COVID-19 on Hawaii and a new Hawaiian political party.
(If you are a US citizen, remember to vote!)
To read more about Hawaii: The Legends and Myths of Hawaii by his Hawaiian Majesty Kalakaua.
Aysen shares her incredible story from Turkey to England, from escaping political imprisonment to building her philosophy around activism - activism as a lifestyle. She offers a different take on activism, beyond demonstrations and protests. Activism is about knowing where you live and the people you live with. It’s about talking to real people, real problems because change comes from how much you work within communities. It’s about sharing with and caring for the people around you.
Helen is an interdisciplinary artist-researcher with the Culture of Cities Centre, Board member with the Centre for Social Innovation, and a Salzburg Global Fellow. She leads the Laboratory for Artistic Intelligence in Toronto, which develops experimental applications of artistic intelligence for society, particularly in matters of public policy. She wears many hats and works across various disciplines. In this episode, we talk about how to be versatile as an artist, how art creates change and transformation in an indirect and organic way and how opportunities arise from connections.
How can we improve the environmental health of the Planet 🌍 and the societal wellbeing for billions of living beings, including humans? What is the Everything Manifesto? How is IAM going to do this over the next billion seconds? This episode is about the urgency of the climate crisis and what we can do moving forward. Thought 🔄 action | Internet ➡️Tools | Collective Critical Hope 🌀 Futures 🌀Solidarity | 👫Citizenship VS Users/ Consumers
IAM is an alternative think tank that is dedicated to exploring the multidimensional implication the digital economies has on the environment and on our collective and individual health and wellness. 👩💻They look at the post-technological futures of everything. They are a creative foresight & strategic design consultancy using futures as tools to help organisations grow their cultural relevance and increase the positive influence they can have in the Planet during this new decade, and beyond. They also organise IAM Weekend, which is an annual gathering for creative thinkers & doers exploring the futures of the internet(s), since 2015.
What does it mean to be seen and heard? This episode is about human connection, image making, community building, activism and listening.
Andrea Luka Zimmerman is an artist, filmmaker and cultural activist whose work unveils aspects of working class experience, and that of people living on the margins of society, who are seldom seen or discussed. Using imaginative hybridity and narrative re-framing, the work prioritises an enduring and equitable co-existence, and there is often a focus on the importance of social bonds within these communities. Award winning and nominated films include Here For Life (2019), Erase and Forget (2017) and Estate, a Reverie (2015).
enspiral.com / betterworktogether.co
How can we work differently? How can we work horizontally without hierarchies? How can we support each other to create change? This episode is about Enspiral and the power of networks.
Enspiral started with a vision to support more people to spend their lives working to solve the greatest challenges of our time. It is a network of groups and people, a DIY collective of social enterprises, ventures, and individuals working collaboratively across the world while fulfilling their purpose. Enspiral is now something like a living laboratory that has been testing ways of working together with trust and respect to share money, information and control as openly as possible for nearly a decade. As a community they’ve supported hundreds of people to launch and build all sorts of initiatives, projects and world-changing ventures.
Ants Cabraal has been working inside, alongside, around, on, under and through various parts of Enspiral since 2012. He has a background in marketing and creative production and now most of his work involves helping startup teams find their feet and grow. He loves to turn thinking and feeling into words that create action.
Follow his work at: whiskeyfixstudios.com
Jonathan Collie is a passionate social entrepreneur. He began his career as a doctor in the NHS before moving into health IT via an MBA at University of Edinburgh. In 2016, Jonathan co-founded The Age of No Retirement CIC to radically reshape society's thinking around Age and create new solutions that embraced our longer, healthier, more productive lives. He has also been leading the development of The Common Room model in the past two years. The Common Room is a brand new concept in community thinking. The Common Rooms are where younger and older come together in dynamic exploration and discovery. It is where human connection, collaboration and the power of “together” thrive.
The Common Room/ The Age of No Retirement
This episode is about being human, being present, being an artist. Teiya Kasahara 笠原 貞野 (they/them) is an opera singer, theatre creator and co-founder of Amplified Opera based in Canada. They are queer, gender non-binary and of Japanese and German roots. We talk about race, gender, identity but also about what it means to hold space, to be empathetic and to listen. It is a genuine conversation between two people of colour in an emotionally charged moment in history. We share our experiences, our reflections and the importance of opening up spaces for such difficult conversations so that we can bridge and heal collectively as a society. In Teiya’s words, we can counter systemic racism and oppression through the lens of love, honesty and honour. www.teiyakasahara.com Co-founder of Amplified Opera Founder/Head Coach of the Vocal Dōjō Special thanks to Anna Driftmier for connecting us!
This episode was updated on August 7 2020 as the first recording was cut off at the end.
This episode is about being human, being present, being an artist. Teiya Kasahara 笠原 貞野 (they/them) is an opera singer, theatre creator and co-founder of Amplified Opera based in Canada. They are queer, gender non-binary and of Japanese and German roots. We talk about race, gender, identity but also about what it means to hold space, to be empathetic and to listen. It is a genuine conversation between two people of colour in an emotionally charged moment in history. We share our experiences, our reflections and the importance of opening up spaces for such difficult conversations so that we can bridge and heal collectively as a society. In Teiya’s words, we can counter systemic racism and oppression through the lens of love, honesty and honour.
Co-founder of Amplified Opera
Founder/Head Coach of the Vocal Dōjō
Special thanks to Anna Driftmier for connecting us!
Evelina Šimkutė is an artist from Lithuania who started ‘Šilainiai Project’. In this episode, we discuss the challenges in starting community projects, financial sustainability and how transforming the way we value community services will lead to the creation of social jobs and the transition into a different economy.
In this episode, I talk to Katja Juhola, founder of ISEAS (International Socially Engaged Art Symposium) about our fears, anxiety and worry about the climate crisis but also about hope and action. Her concerns over climate change back in the 90s led her on her journey learning organic farming and eventually setting up an organic farm with her husband and her work in ISEAS facilitating conversations about the environment through art. The symposiums invite artists, researchers and documenters to work with local communities. Each year, the team explores possibilities and methods that mediate environmental conflicts in activities that are artistic, interdisciplinary and community-related. We talk about the impact of her symposiums on local community and the artists, the value of intercultural exchange and education and finally about how we can each work towards change.
Josh and Janita started a farm when COVID hit Canada a couple of months ago. He did photography and then was doing his PHD on philosophy of ecology and then bam, Evermeadow Farm started and they weren't just raising two kids but also chickens and lambs. This is more than a farm. We are talking about a financially and ecologically sustainable way of creating change. We are talking about direct impact to restore and regenerate the ecosystem through agriculture. Is it ethical to have children? Should we eat meat? How do we hope for the present? We talk about the need to rethink value to create systemic change, alternative fears, building local food security and connecting local communities through food.
JoJo is a founding member of Interwoven Productions CIC. Based in Exeter, United Kingdom, the company found a way to bring together elements of circular and gift economy with socially connected Creative Placemaking to better connect people to each other and their place. In this episode, JoJo talks about their Squilometre technique, how they engage with local communities, the way they achieve financial independence in their community projects and Squilometre Place Champion training.
Find out more:
A big thank you to Andrea Tamiazzo for the music.