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Making Design Circular Podcast – Season 4 – Exploring Shake off the “Should”s – Plant

Welcome to season four of Making Design Circular with Katie Treggiden, in which we’re exploring what it takes to cultivate a creative practice in which you, your business and the planet ALL get to thrive. We’ll be diving deep into the nuances, complexities and mindset shifts that we need to embrace to bring about a just transition to a more circular economy.

In this episode, Katie dives into “Plant” – the second pillar of the Making Design Circular framework which is all about:

  • Believing that you can make a difference because hope is the precursor to change.
  • Defining your unique contribution to environmentalism so you can stop trying to save the planet single-handedly and find the (probably tiny) area in which you can make a big impact.
  • Playing with curiosity, creativity and experimentation, because that is the soil in which creativity thrives

You will start to identify the work only you can contribute to the environmentalism movement, which plays to your strengths, aligns with your values, and is something you love doing.

Workbook link: Shake off the Shoulds Workbook.pdf (

Making Design Circular membership: An international membership community and online learning platform for environmentally conscious designers, makers artists and craftspeople – join us!

The membership is open from 22nd November – 3rd December 2023 so if you are listening before 03 December, you can find all the details here:

If you’re listening after 03 December, you can join the membership waitlist here to be the first to hear the next time we open doors to the membership.

Broken: Mending and repair in a throwaway worldKatie’s sixth book celebrates 25 artists, curators, menders and re-makers who have rejected the allure of the fast, disposable and easy in favour of the patina of use, the stories of age and the longevity of care and repair. Accompanying these profiles, six in-depth essays explore the societal, cultural and environmental roles of mending in a throwaway world.

Cultivating Hope, 3 part mini course: Are you ready to cultivate hope in the face of the climate crisis? Sign up to Katie’s three-part free mini course that will help you move through feelings of helplessness, reconnect with nature and take aligned action.

The Seed, Self-paced 4 part course: Sign up to Katie’s self-paced course to help you find your unique contribution to environmentalism – have fun, play to your strengths, work in alignment with your values and make a big impact in the process.

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About Katie:
Katie Treggiden is the founder and director of Making Design Circular – an international membership community and online learning platform for environmentally conscious designers, makers artists and craftspeople. She is also an author, journalist and podcaster championing a hopeful approach to environmentalism. With more than 20 years’ experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, Crafts Magazine and Dezeen. She is currently exploring the question ‘Can craft save the world?’ through her sixth book, Broken: Mending & Repair in a Throwaway World (Ludion, 2023), this very podcast.

Below is a transcript of our conversation. Find the full episode available to listen on Spotify here.

This transcript is generated in – please excuse any spelling and grammatical errors. 


Welcome to season four of Making Design Circular with Katie Treggiden, in which we’re exploring what it takes to cultivate a creative practice in which you, your business and the planet ALL get to thrive. We’ll be diving deep into the nuances, complexities and mindset shifts that we need to embrace to bring about a just transition to a more circular economy.


Hey, it is the week commencing the 20th of November 2023 as I record this, and all of this week, I’m running a series of free lunchtime workshops called Shake off the “Should”s. So the idea is that we let go of all the ways we’ve been told we’re supposed to show up and find a way to do environmentalism that works for us that aligns with our values that lights us up that makes us excited, that reconnects us with the reasons we got interested in Craft and Design and making in the first place. So I thought it might be quite an interesting thing to do is just to share the audio replays of those as part of the podcast. So if you’re signed up to those already, you will be getting the visual replays into your inbox. If you are more of a podcast listener, you’re just gonna get the audio versions over the next three days.

There is a link to the worksheets in the shownotes, so if you want to kind of sit down and follow along and do all the exercises along with us, then feel free to do so. You might have to hit pause because I think we probably will have edited some of the silent gaps where everybody was working hard out of the podcast, but please feel free to do that. Equally, if you just want to listen while you’re walking the dog, folding laundry or in the bath and let it all wash over you then do that too.

If you’re listening before midnight on Sunday, the 3rd of December, the doors to the making design circular membership are currently open. And if you love this podcast, you’re gonna love the membership. So check out the link to that in the show notes. I would absolutely love to have you as part of the membership. If you’re listening after that date. We will also pop a link to the waitlist in the show notes so that you’ll be the first to hear next time we open the doors. Alright, enjoy the replay and give me a shout out via Insta DM if you’ve got any questions.


Katie Treggiden 

Welcome to day two where we’re gonna be talking about believe, define and play. So this is the whole framework. Yesterday we talked about the idea of absolving yourself from guilt because the climate crisis is not your fault. You didn’t cause this, you didn’t make this happen. And plenty of people before you were born had something plenty that they could have done about it. That said, we are the last collection of humans on earth who probably have the opportunity to do something about this.

So if you are up for it, it can be a creative, playful, engaging, and fun challenge to take on. Just because the climate crisis is serious doesn’t mean that the solutions or the ways to the solutions have to be kind of serious. We talked about liberating ourselves from perfectionism and I’ve had a message from a couple of you since saying you hadn’t realized quite how bigger role perfectionism was playing and holding you back from making progress in your sustainability work.

And perfectionism is sneaky. It will kind of just, I’ve spent so long thinking, oh, I’ve recovered from my perfectionist tendencies only to realize it’s showing up in a new and different way. So you’ll find that it’s a bit like peeling layers off an onion. And then we talked about the idea that there’s no one right way to do environmentalism. And instead we’re looking to find ways that align with your values.

And we’re gonna talk a little bit more about that today. So today we’re really gonna dig into this plant section. So planting the seeds for your sustainability journey. And first of all, we’re gonna talk about believe. And this one is really important to me in the work I do outside of making design circular in my, my public speaking and my journalism and my books and stuff.

A lot of that is about hope and, and not just any old hope but defiant hope. And I love this quote from Rebecca Sonet. It comes from a book called Hope in the Dark. And she says, hope is an ax. And this is a, a sort of abbreviated quote from the following, which I’m gonna read to you. Hope is not a lottery ticket.

You can sit on the sofa and clutch feeling lucky. It is an ax you break doors down with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s resources and the grinding down of the poor and the marginal. So hope is to give yourself to the future.

And that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable. And this is what I’m talking about when I’m talking about hope. I am not talking about a kind of no it, it’ll probably just all be all right. You know, that sort of naive faith or blind optimism, it’s about making a decision every morning to wake up and to choose to believe that better world is possible.

There’s another quote I love from Aaron dti Roy, which I’m probably gonna butcher ’cause I don’t have it written down, but it’s something along the lines of another world is not only possible but she’s already on her way. I can hear her breathing. And it’s that sense that this better world, I dunno if anybody’s read the future, we choose, but they talk about stubborn optimism and they paint a picture of of 2050 after we do everything we possibly can do.

And it’s this beautiful world of, you know, trees and clean air and cycling and local food. And it’s a world we can choose to bring about, but we have to believe A, that it’s possible and B, that we have agency to make a difference. And those things can be hard to believe, right? Particularly if you have an Instagram feed that looks anything like mine at the moment, if you consume mainstream media, you know there’s a lot of bad news and a news is wired towards the recent and the dramatic, which is often bad. Good things tend to take longer to happen and tend to be subtler. They’re not quite so impactful for headlines. And also neurobiologically, our brains are wired to seek out risk and threat. That’s how we keep ourselves alive.

There’s a a bit of your brain right at the back, which is often referred, referred to as the reptile brain. It doesn’t process language. It’s all about scanning the environment for threat to keep you alive. So we have a negativity bias. We’re more likely to remember or be emotionally affected by bad news than we are good news in the same way that if someone, you know, if you get 10 compliments in a day and one insult, you’re gonna remember the insult, right? That’s gonna affect your mood. And so we have to work hard to, to counteract that, to overcome that. And that’s partly about curating your news feeds. It’s about being careful about what you let into your brain. I follow positive news on Instagram and subscribe to their newspaper, which is amazing just to understand there’s so much good stuff happening in the world. But it’s hard, right? It’s an, it’s an act of choice. And I actually think this is a the most important part of my work because if we don’t believe change is possible, we’re not going to act. So the strap line on my katie website is defiant Hope sparks meaningful change.

I think this is the most important thing I do. I also think it’s the hardest part of my job ’cause I spend a lot of my time feeling utterly hopeless. I’m not gonna stand here and pretend to be some sort of perfect stubborn optimist. I’m absolutely not. So the, these are the three steps I go through when I’m feeling hopeless. I have a free self-paced course called Cultivating Hope, which looks like this on my website. And curly will pop a link into the chat. So if anybody is feeling particularly hopeless at the moment, please dive into that. But in essence the three steps are to feel your feelings. So this is not about toxic positivity, this is not about kind of stuffing down the negative feelings and hoping they’ll go away.

It’s about allowing yourself to acknowledge them. And something that can be quite helpful is naming your feelings. So understanding very specifically, are you angry or are you frustrated or are you furious? Is it rage or is it annoyance? You know, getting really specific about the language and naming your emotions can be really helpful. It can be really helpful to to journal, to kind of write things down and get them out of your system and then maybe burn the piece of paper you’ve written them on. There are somatic processes you can go through. So if you’ve ever seen on a David Attenborough program, perhaps a lion chasing an antelope and the antelope will fall to the ground and and drop, pretend to drop dead, which is the freeze sort of response once the lion’s moved on, when the antelope gets up, the first thing it does is shakes its whole body and it’s doing that to move the cortisol and the adrenaline through its body. So again, that part of your brain at the back, the reptile brain can’t process language. So it’s all very well telling your brain that it’s okay, but it doesn’t hear you. Sometimes you need a kind of bodily somatic process to, to move through those feelings shaking your whole body as a good one. If anybody’s read a book called Burnout by Emily and Amelia Naski, they talk about the 22nd hug. So if you had run away from a bear when we were living in caves, at some point you would’ve reached people and close the door behind you and been safe and probably hugged one of those people.

And so if you’re lucky enough to, to live with a human who’s up for up for it, just kind of leaning into them so that you each are taking each other’s weight and having a really tight hug for 20 seconds does incredible things to your central nervous system just in terms of that sense of connection and safety. So that book I really recommend for some of this stuff.

But the first, the point I’m trying to make is feel your feelings. Allow them to be sit with them, don’t feel the need to fix them or make them go away or squish them down. Just allow them to be. And I know there are a lot of feelings at the moment and rightly so, right? We would be in compassionate, heartless humans if we weren’t having a lot of feelings at the moment.

So it’s okay to feel those feelings. The next step is to reconnect with nature and we’re gonna do a little bit of that in a moment. So I’m hoping that you’ve all bought something from nature and a pen or pen or pencil and something to draw on. If you haven’t, don’t panic. A pot plant on your desk will do. The pen you usually write with will do your to-do list will do.

We don’t need fancy craft supplies or beautiful foraged items. We can do this very much as we are. So the next step is to, is to reconnect with nature. And there is a ton of research that shows that being in natural spaces is good for our mental health. But recent research that’s come out from the RSPB shows that you’ve probably all seen that TikTok meme and it’s a bit dated now, but the one that sort of goes going for a stupid walking stupid nature of my stupid mental health that will do some good, right? But really connecting with nature is what has the biggest impact. So if you can take a moment to, you know, really look at the way the leaves and dancing in the sunlight or I followed a little snail walking across a path the other day and it was amazing how much it just pulled me out of my own head.

So we’re gonna do a little bit of this so you can see it for for real. And then I think you can move into aligned action. I think you kind of have to do these things first and then you can move into aligned action. And we’re gonna talk a little bit in the next section when we get onto the idea of define exactly what I mean when I say aligned action.

But I think this is a, and this is a process I have to go through a lot and this is the basis of that Cultivating hope course. So we’re gonna do it very top line today. But if you want to dig into this for more depth, cultivating hope is a free three part mini course. It’s all delivered by email so you don’t have to sign up for anything or join anything or set any new passwords.

And you know it’s something, it’s when I say it’s free, that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable, it’s something I could probably charge money for. But I feel it’s so important that it should be out in the world because we need hope before we can do anything else. So Ty’s popped the link for that one in the chat and if that’s something you feel you need, please feel free to download that and and come back to this in a bit more depth. But we’re gonna do a spot of nature journaling. And when I say nature journaling, this is not what I’m looking for. I’m not looking for beautiful watercolors and neat handwriting. I’m looking for something a bit more like this. There is a beautiful Mary Oliver quote from one of my favorite poems, which is, I don’t know what a prayer is, I do know how to pay attention and nature journaling is not about producing beautiful works of art, it’s about paying attention. So the important thing is the attention, not the output. And I know you are all creative folk and I know there are some perfectionists amongst you, so I know there’s gonna be a temptation to produce this, but this is not what we’re aiming for. Okay, very much aiming for this. So I am gonna ask you to grab your, I’m gonna stop sharing for a moment. I’m gonna ask you to grab your thing from nature. I have the pot plant that lifts on my desk. So as I said, this can be absolutely anything, something that you can see right now.

It could be a pet, it could be the view out of your window, it could be a leaf you happen to pick up on your walk yesterday. It doesn’t need to be fancy or beautiful or foraged. It just needs to be something that is not manmade, not of the built environment, but something that comes from the more than human world. And you will also need a pen or a pencil or a, anything you can make marks with and something to make marks on, which could be a beautifully bound sketchbook or it could be your to-do list or the back of an envelope or a piece of paper you happen to have on your desk. This is all about doing things imperfectly, not about doing them perfectly and therefore never doing them. So the first thing, I’m just gonna let folks settle.

The first thing we’re going to do is just pay attention. So this is a meditation I like to do when I’m out walking in nature pretty much every time I head outside at some point I just go through this very quick meditation and it’s about paying attention. It’s also used in the treatment of anxiety. So it’s interesting that these things can be kind of intersectional.

But I would like you looking at your thing from nature to notice five things that you can see. So just really look at it and notice visually five things about it. Don’t need to write them down, you don’t need to draw them, you don’t need to do anything other than notice them. So this is a lovely one to do when you’re on a walk.

I can notice that my little plant needs water just looking a bit wrinkly. I’m noticing colors that I hadn’t noticed before. I would’ve said it was green, but it’s actually lots of shades of green and gray and yellow and little bit of brown where it’s getting a bit crispy. At the top I noticed a new leaf, which is exciting and there’s a little part of a leaf that pinches in and then goes out again, which I haven’t noticed before. So just things you can notice visually. And then I’m gonna ask you to notice four things you can hear unless you’ve got a pet. Your natural thing might not be making a lot of noise. So these can be my voice, squeak of your chair as you wiggle back and forth, perhaps somebody speaking in another room, some road noise, but four things you can hear and then, or three things you can feel. So you might wanna touch your natural object, maybe close your eyes to do that. You might also be able to feel your bum on the seat or your clothes against your skin if you’ve got the window open, perhaps with fresh air against your cheeks. So three things you can feel and then two things you can smell.

I’m gonna get my nose right in here. Don’t have any perfume on today. And then finally, one thing you can taste, which might just be toothpaste or you might wanna have a nibble of your natural thing depending on what it is, Please don’t nibble it if it’s not edible. And just lemme know in the chat how you feel having gone through those five senses.

I always find it slows me right down. Scott says relaxed. Yeah, totally. It really just calms you, doesn’t it? Abigail’s is much more relaxed. Hazel says, surprisingly calmer, Helen says Grounded is amazing how often we arrive in spaces like this bringing the rest of the day with us. And I must get better at allowing a little moment for grounding.

Before I start chatting, Brian says calm, Jackie says, relaxed and grounded. Helen says grounded. Hazel says, surprisingly calmer. Yeah, so that’s just a lovely thing to do when you get outside in nature, like every time you go for a walk, you can do that as you are walking is a really lovely way to engage. But we’re going to do a little spot of nature journaling to kind of take that a little bit further.

So the first thing we’re going to do is you’re gonna draw your natural object without looking at the paper. Anybody who’s been to art school I’m sure has done these things before. They’re all quite standard drawing challenges, but my art teacher always used to say drawing is 80% looking and only 20% drawing. So we’re gonna take that to its extreme and make it a hundred percent drawing.

What I’d also like you to is not take your pen off the paper, which when you’re not looking at the paper is actually quite a helpful trick. So I will give you a couple of minutes just to draw your object without looking at the paper and without taking your pen off the page. So hard not to look and remember, this is an exercise in paying attention, not in creating beautiful things. One more minute on this one. I have like a massive piece of paper under my keyboard that is supposed to last me for a week’s worth of doodles, but I suspect it’s just going to be covered in plant drawings. This, this week, Mike, you’ve got 10 more seconds on that one. Now if you’re able to, I’m gonna ask you to move your drawing implement from your dominant hand to your non-dominant hand. If you’re not able to do that, think of another way of mixing it up a little bit so that the thing you are drawing with is not the thing you would usually be drawing with. And we’re gonna do the same thing again and I’ll give you two minutes.

We’ve got a little bit longer this time, so see if you can fill in some of the details as well as just the outline. Carry on paying attention to things like the sound your pen or pencil is making on your paper there. You’ve got another 30 seconds on this one. And then, then let me know in the chat either how you’re feeling now or whether there’s anything you noticed about your natural object that you haven’t noticed before you started drawing it.

I’m gonna give mine some water. It’s looking a little bit, a little bit neglected, maybe doesn’t I need to come back to art college. Hazel said, yep, might need watering too. It’s interesting, isn’t it? That connection with attention and care. Abigail says freer. Nice. That was a sneaky lesson in imperfection as well. Following up from yesterday.

I actually love the quality of line that my left hand does. It’s kind of shaky. Hannah said. I noticed more texture and detail. Can we look at our drawings? Yeah, actually can Jackie said the perfect proportions that increase up the shell, which I just didn’t manage to capture while drawing though I saw it. Yeah, that’s nice. Sonia said Drowning with drawing by non-dominant hand was much more fluid and yes, less restrictive, right, which is interesting in itself. Rachel says, calm and pleasantly surprised by the beautiful of imperfection. Briny says, my leaf looks like an aerial photo. Oh, amazing. Hazel said my left hand drawing came out naturally bigger. I love that. Yeah, Sonya, I figured you meant drawing, not drowning. Scott says drawing of a two year old.

I mean I think they’re some of the most impressive drawings often. Karen said mine was a gift from another office, so I’m happy to say it’s growing. So I said the eely similar. Interesting. No, as I said, the non-dominant hand was better. Yeah, I, I love the non-dominant hand ones. I think there’s something, as you say, just quite free about them. I love the fact that Hazel’s left hand drawing came out naturally bigger. And I wonder if there’s a metaphor I’m, I’m a big fan of drawing metaphors out of things about kind of taking up space when we kind of let go of perfection and are a bit freer. Awesome. Cool. So that is kind of part of this process, this kind of three-step process of cultivating hope in the face of the climate crisis or indeed any crisis. It’s been written very much for environmentalism, but I think the, I think the steps work if you are feeling despair over other things. And I also think a lot of the things that are causing us despair are interconnected and intersectional. So that is just like a little, a little taster of that idea. But the important thing is to say is the importance of hope, right? And the importance of stopping and allowing yourself to cultivate hope rather than running yourself into the ground. Trying to help, because I think we’ll come onto this a little bit tomorrow, but it’s important that we, we stop and that, you know, a couple of us noticed that our plants needed watering. And I think there’s something so interesting in that connection between paying attention and the ability to care and to to provide care. So I am gonna share my slides again. So again, that is something that you can take out into nature if you’ve got a little sketchbook that you can just pop in your bag when you are out and about just stopping and and drawing something as a way of really connecting with it.

Next I wanna talk to you about the idea of define, because I think a lot of us, and this sounds melodramatic, but I think, and maybe it’s just me, tell me if it’s just me, but I think a lot of us feel like we’ve got the safe planet, single-handedly there’s this sense of, you know, oh I’ve got to worry about oceanic acidification and the plastics crisis and biodiversity and carbon and kind of all of the things.

And when you stop and think about it, and I, I do this, it’s like, well if I don’t do it, who’s gonna do it? I’m not gonna sort out the climate crisis on my own. It’s ridiculous to imagine that I would, but I think so many of us spread ourselves so thin trying to do all the things. And I came across, across this quote in a book called, this is Marketing by Seth Godin. And if you haven’t read it and you’re not familiar with Seth Godin’s work, don’t be put off by the title. It’s really a book about how you can use your business to change the culture. It’s a really, really powerful book that I highly recommend. And he says specific as a kind of bravery and it’s one of my favorite quotes.

Yeah, Hazel says all of the things, right? I think we all do this. And Seth says in this book that specific as a kind of bravery, and he’s talking about business, right? He’s talking about niching down how for the vast majority of us, anybody but the kind of enormous companies like Amazon of the world, if you are a small business, you are gonna have more success by offering fewer things to fewer people. And it feels really counterintuitive because you sort of think, well surely it’s have the most success, I should do all the things for all the people. But what happens is you end up doing all of those things kind of mediocre. Whereas if you work out exactly who your people are and exactly what you are brilliant at, you can really connect with them and you can become the go-to person for that thing. But it takes bravery because it’s, it’s counterintuitive and I have twice resigned 80% of my work in order to focus. And both times it’s been incredibly terrifying but incredibly kind of powerful. And I’ll come onto that a little bit in a moment, but I think when we apply this to environmentalism, it requires an extra layer of courage. Because if I say, look, I’m just gonna focus on this tiny part of the climate crisis, who’s doing everything else? You know, if I’m only gonna focus on, you know, I don’t know, picking litter off Cornish beaches for example. It feels so small. But the lovely thing about being in community with other people doing this work is I can say, well it’s okay because Issa’s doing that thing and Hazel’s doing that thing and Toby’s doing that thing. So you sort of get that sense of between us we can do this. And I wanna give you a couple of examples. This is a lady who goes by the Monica super Nan, she’s in her seventies, her real name’s Pat. And she lives very near me in Cornwall.

And she saw a documentary many years ago now before, before the kind of famous blue planet moment about ocean plastic. And she said she couldn’t sleep that night. She was kind of tossing and turning, having discovered this phenomenon of ocean plastic. And she said she can remember thinking somebody should do something. And then she went, hang on a minute, maybe that’s somebody should be me.

And so she vowed to do a litter pick on a Cornish beach every weekend for a year, the tiniest of of commitments, right? All she’s gonna do is pick litter off a Cornish beach once every weekend for a year. By the end of that year she’d cleaned the plastic off 52 Cornish beaches, which is quite impressive. But she’d also started to notice what the sort of litter was that was ending up on the beach.

So as she was going around, she was having conversations with cafes, she managed to convince most of the cafes on those beaches to stop using disposable coffee cups, plastic straws. And so she’s actually had this huge impact. She’s done a TED Talk, she’s been on ABBC documentary, she’s inspired other people to do beach cleans. Everybody in Cornwall knows, you know, action Ns. And so there’s this lovely idea that when you pick your tiny little focus, you can actually have a really big ripple effect. Another example is a company called Green and Blue, also based in Cornwall run by a friend of mine called Gavin Christman. And they take waste from the English kind of trade clay industry, which is still relatively active in Gowa.

And they make these bricks which provide nesting grounds for solitary bees. So we’re not talking about honeybees here, we’re not talking about bees who lives in live in hives. We’re talking about the 200 or so species of solitary bees that do an awful lot of the pollination work that is required. And every spring they need somewhere to lay their eggs. This one in particular is a leaf cutter bee, which lays some eggs, puts some nectar, and then a leaf eggs, nectar leaf, and it cuts the leaf to the exact shape of these holes to plug. And it’s absolutely incredible. We’ve got some in our garden, but that’s all Gavin’s doing. He’s just looking after, you know, we take the environmental crisis, then we take the biodiversity crisis, then we take bees, then we take solitary bees. All Gavin is doing is providing nest insights for solitary bees. And yet he’s had a huge impact. So Brighton and Hove council have already mandated that all new builds have to have these bee bricks in them. And every year they do something called wear your stripes where you turn up on Instagram or wherever and stripe the outfits and talk about the things you’re doing to earn those stripes to create habitats for solitary bees.

So mining bees for example, need a bare patch of soil. So one of the things they do is encourage people to leave a bare patch of soil in their gardens. And Gavin talks about the fact that if we added up all the front and back gardens in Britain, it’s a vast amount of land and it’s this little kind of patchwork that connects so bees and birds and little mammals can move between those gardens.

And if we all did this, they’d have enough habitat. And I think it’s so powerful that he’s chosen this tiny, tiny little problem but is having a huge impact with it. And then I mentioned that I’d resigned 80% of my income twice, which is true most recently. The first time around I resigned all my copywriting work to focus on this. And then the second time around I resigned anything that wasn’t to do with sustainability.

And it was absolutely terrifying both times. That was about 80% of my work. But it’s fascinating that I was known as a craft and design journalist and author. There are a lot of those. So if you want somebody to write about craft and design, you have a list, you know, yay long to choose from. When I started turning down all work that wasn’t sustainability related, there’s only really two of us, me and a guy called Roddy Clark. And it’s incredible how without even trying that 80% of work was kind of replaced. And I think it’s really powerful that when you find yourself a niche and you tell the universe that that is your niche, and I’m not talking about this in a kind of woowoo way, you just put out onto the world that that’s what you do.

That work comes and finds you, it becomes self-fulfilling. And I’m not suggesting that it’s not terrifying and I’m not suggesting that there isn’t an element of privilege in being able to do that, but it’s really powerful. The question is, what is your niche? What do you focus on of all of the things? And so in your workbook there is a version of this diagram which has actually got an extra circle in it, I think because I forgot this is a napkin, I should give you the background on this napkin. My very first job, I worked in advertising and marketing for my sins for 12 years. I lost my job via the medium of a post-it note in true advertising style and decided it was a now or never moment if I wanted to become a writer and sort of pursue this dream.

And so Scott, that is the other circle. Yeah. And so I had a job interview and in my job interview I, I went to work for a charity called Maggie’s who I had approached before losing my job just because I adored them and wanted to work for them. And in my interview they said, what do you wanna do for us? And I drew this diagram, I said I wanted to work at the intersection of what I was good at, what I love doing and what the world needs. Scott’s right in that there’s also another circle, which is in your workbook, which is things I can be paid for, which in my naivety I missed out of this little diagram. But this came out of my brain. I then heard it a very similar version on a podcast called How to Save a Planet in terms of working out what your environmental impact is.

It’s also been credited to a Japanese concept, but if you do the digging, it’s actually not, it’s one of those things that western people have appropriated and given a Japanese name. And if you showed it to a Japanese person, they’d have no idea what you’re talking about. So this is what I would like you to do. I would like you to fill in the, the circles. If you’ve got the workbook in front of you, it is in there. Kirsty, could you pop a link into the chat just in case anyone who wasn’t here yesterday needs to download that. And if you are just working with a pen and a piece of paper, you wanna draw four circles, one that says things you love doing, one that says things you’re really good at, there’s an R missing off that in the workbook. I apologize. Things the planet needs and things you can make money doing. And I want you to start filling those things in. So if you start with things you love doing that is sometimes an easier one. And they don’t, you don’t have to worry yet about how they’re gonna connect. So in this circle, I would put things like paddleboarding yoga, hanging out with my dog, walking on the beach, reading books, going to craft fairs. You know, it doesn’t, you don’t have to worry yet about how they’re gonna connect. Just put everything you love doing in that top circle. And this might feel a little bit self-indulgent, but it’s actually really important that the, the niche you find in environmentalism is something you enjoy. There’s a lot of research that shows that extrinsic motivation. So the things you feel you ought to do is less effective than intrinsic motivation. The things you just wanna do for the sake of doing them. So if you want to find a a niche and environmental contribution that you’re gonna stick out for the long term, it’s okay that it’s something you enjoy. We don’t have to be hair shared about this. It doesn’t have to feel like a massive sacrifice. Other people enjoy doing other things. So things feel free to list all the things you love. And if anybody hasn’t got the workbook and wants to print it out quickly, Kirsty has now popped the link in the chat.

And This can be things you love doing within your creative practice. So for me, writing and public speaking and doing stuff like this, very much go in that circle. But it can also be stuff you love doing outside of work As a kid being told that you should think about the things you enjoy and try and find a job that involves those things.

And I laughed ’cause what I loved doing as a kid was cutting up pictures of magazines and sticking them together. And I was like, there’s no job that involves that. And then I did my interior design qualifications, I realized that’s a mood board and there’s totally a job that involves that. So if you enjoy it, chuck it down. It might not make sense yet, but you might make sense of it eventually. And then in the next circle on the workbook, things you are really good at, not really good at. And this one can be tough, particularly for those of us socialized as female, claiming our gifts or those of us who grew up working class. The idea of being too big for your boots, right?

Or too clever by half. I think sometimes naming your gifts can feel uncomfortable. So if you’re struggling with things you’re really good at, think about, and we covered some of them yesterday and the values exercise, think about the things that come easily to you, the things people compliment you on, the things people ask for your help with. There’s often quite a lot of overlap in the things you’re good at and things you love doing.

’cause you are more likely to have invested time and kept out the things you enjoy and under things you’re good at. You might also wanna think about the resources that you have access to, the connections that you have. These are your gifts, what you can offer to as part of your contribution. So one of the things that I had never realized that I’m good at is bringing people together.

I’ve been described as the glue of various friendship groups and and networks. And it never would’ve occurred to me to list that. And it’s only in doing this work that I’ve realized actually being able to bring a group of people together is actually pretty powerful. And environmental work. Previously it had just made me the default organizer of all social events. So it was more of a curse than a blessing.

So things you’re really good at and no one’s gonna see this. So, and I mentioned yesterday a book called Gay Hendrix called The Big Leap and he talks about your zone of incompetence, your zone of competence, your zone of excellence in your zone of genius. So this is very much about your zone of genius. So again, if you’re struggling, think about what people, things, people compliment you on things people ask for your help with. The things you find easy, the things that come to you naturally and often, those are the hardest ones to claim, right? Took me a long time to realize that not everybody loves writing as much as I do. Some people hate it, some people are willing to pay me money to do it for them.

Which is a strange thing when it’s something that you love that comes to you so naturally. And then in the bottom circle on your workshop, things you can make money doing. And this is important because if you want your environmental contribution to be part of your creative practice and part of your business, it needs to be financially viable. You need to be able to thrive, not just survive whilst doing it. If you wanted to scroll back through my Instagram, there’s a bit of a ranty post about why it’s okay to be paid to do good work in the world after someone accused me from, for profiting from the environmental crisis because I was charging money to work with me. And I was like, I think you’ll find it’s the fossil fuel companies who are profiting from the environmental crisis.

Those of us trying to do good also deserve to make a living. So it’s absolutely okay And more than okay, and we’ll come onto this a little bit more tomorrow to make sure you’re getting paid properly for what you do. We live in a, in a society that requires us to earn money to survive. That’s part of the deal. And it’s okay,

that’s an exchange of value. There is a big difference between capitalism and trade and what most of us are engaging in is trade. So things you can make money doing and think beyond the obvious. So whatever your creative practice is now, if that’s making money, think about all the ways you’ve made money in the past. It might be there is a, a skill set you have from a different career or a different job that you might be able to translate into this work. It’s all intersectional. So the chances are we’re looking for the things in the overlaps, right? The chances are the stuff you’re good at and the stuff you love doing is also valuable to other people and can be exchanged for money remuneration.

And there will also be things you can make money doing that you’re not good at and you don’t love. Those bits go in the non-overlapping bits of the circle. This exercise is part of another course that I run called the Seed, which is part of the membership and the, the members of mine that have done it multiple times have found that the first time they do it, everything is quite disparate and they can’t quite see the overlaps. But over time and through working with me, like the, the things in the circles are getting closer and closer to the middle and they’re finding the overlaps and finding that sweet spot, finding the ways in which, remember that watering can mean from yesterday, the ways in which when we pour into one of those, those watering cans, it automatically fills the others. That’s what we’re doing here is we’re trying to find that sweet spot where that’s the case. And then the final section on here, I’ve said what the world needs in your workshop. It says things the planet needs that you care about. ’cause the world needs an awful lot and some of it will matter to you more than others.

And again, that’s okay ’cause there’s lots of people doing this work. So when you’re thinking about things the world needs, think about the things you spec you care about. So I live in corn, I’m absolutely surrounded by the ocean and I’m an absolute water baby. And so I ideally spend a lot of my time in on or near the water. Currently the water companies are dumping sewage in it almost every day.

So I can’t do that. So clean oceans are quite high up my personal list of, of what the world needs. And again, that’s okay. It’s okay for there to be an overlap. And again, I have a particular interest in craft and design. So the world needs all industries to become more circular, but I care most about this one.

So it’s about the things the world needs that you care about, that you feel passionate about that make you particularly angry. Jen, I actually, Jen says sorry for joining late. Love this session already, gay Hendricks. Which book would you recommend, if any? The Genius Zone or the Big Leap? I haven’t read the Genius Zone, Jen, but the big leap is help.

I mean, I’m not gonna say it’s the best book I’ve ever read in the world. It has some helpful frameworks in it. And yeah, I think the big leap is worth the read. I think it’s a really interesting model in terms of understanding that idea. I think very quickly we outsource our zone of incompetence ’cause we just can’t do that stuff.

I have Kirsty on my team because the tech stuff is very much in my zone of incompetence. So having Kirsty around is a no brainer. As you noticed yesterday with the tech issues when we joined, I’m not good at that stuff. I think we outsource our zone of competence relatively quickly or automate it. But the big issue that we have is we spend too much time in our zone of excellence and not enough time in our zone of genius.

And I think that’s the, the nuance that that book is worth reading for. Any other book or audio suggestions, the future we choose, which I’ve mentioned already is amazing. That’s one of my favorite books if you haven’t read that already. And Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit, which is what that quote came from. Anything by Mary Oliver, I’m sure I’ll think of more.

Cool. So how are our Venn diagrams coming on? Anyone who knows me a little bit will know that I love a Venn diagram so I can, I can be in a meeting and come out with several Venn diagrams. This is your second one already. So yeah, you will probably find, you can’t necessarily necessarily see the overlaps yet. It takes a little while, a bit of thinking, a bit of exploring. You will find over time if you come back to this stuff and if you’re doing this work, these things will start moving towards the center and you’ll start to work out what that unique contribution is. And I should say it doesn’t have to be your life’s work. So this is my life’s work. This is right at the middle of that, at that center. That’s why you’re all here. But something else I realized is doing beach cleans with my dad is also in the middle of that circle. I love spending time near the water. I find picking up that’s a very calm and very meditative and relatively good at it. It’s amazing how you’ll walk one way over a beach and then you’ll walk back and realize how much litter you missed.

And there’s been some recent research to show how important beach cleans are for keeping microplastics out of the ocean. So that is something that I do that is, gives me hope, right? It’s that aligned action at the end of that, feel your feelings, spend time in nature. Take aligned action. It’s not my life’s work, but it does give me hope.

And so I think sometimes you’ll find something really profound at the beginning of this, at the middle of this Venn diagram, sometimes you’ll just find something that’s like, huh, that might be interesting. And then, you know, follow that and see where it, see where it ends up often. Just following those little niggles, this whole, the whole of making design circular came about because I thought it might be fun to start a Facebook group for environmentally minded creatives.

It was a, a little niggle, a little passion project. And it’s turned into this. So follow the little ones. Jackie says, it’s interesting how this exercise has confirmed what I was already thinking, but I hadn’t thought it through. That’s fantastic, Jackie. That’s really important validation, I think. Oh gosh, we haven’t got very much time left.

Okay, so again, come back to this if you wanna dig into it in a lot more depth. The seed is a, is a kind of short course that really digs into how to find this unique contribution. Kirsty, could you pop a chat to the seed in the chat, please? It’s a little short course that just really digs into how to find this unique contribution because it is, it’s a process, right? But feel free to come back to this. Oh yeah, there we go. There’s the seed and it’s a, there’s a self-paced version and occasionally I run it live and at some point I will run it as a retreat in Cornwall. I was hoping to do that this January, but I think it’s gonna be next year.

So the final thing I wanted to talk to you about was play and playfulness. And I just wanna make sure we’ve got a bit of time to talk about this before we wrap up. So I think we tend to, to think, as I, as I mentioned earlier, but the climate crisis and the environmental crisis, this very serious problem, right?

So we can’t be mucking about playing, we’ve gotta be serious ’cause it’s a serious problem. But as creative people, you know that the best creative solutions are often found in play, in curiosity and experimentation, in trying something in my favorite new phrase, fucking around and finding out, I think sometimes just that sense of looseness, you know, we just had that experience of drawing with our non-dominant hand and, and kind of how that loosened us up and created something more interesting. So I believe players are really important part of creativity. But until I met Lucy Hawthorne, who runs Climate play, I hadn’t quite put two and two together to work out the role it plays in the environmental crisis. The environmental crisis is what’s described as vuca. It’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. And this could be said about most of the, not only our environmental climate at the moment, but our political and economic climates as well. There’s a lot going on. And so trying to fear and force people into action doesn’t work. This stuff is unpleasant to be in, right? It’s hard to sit in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. And so Lucy’s theory, which I think absolutely pans out, is that we need to engage people and ourselves in environmentalism work in a way that is light, fun, and easy. And so she talks about these different, these eight different play archetypes. So I think often, you know, kids know how to play. Nobody teaches kids how to be playful.

But at some point when we grow up, we’re told to kind of put that all away. But Lucy talks about these archetypes and there’s a whole interview with Lucy on my podcast, which has recently gone live. So we dig into this in a lot more depth. So she talks about the joker, the explorer, the the competitor, the artist, the director, the storyteller, and the collector. And these are all ways into playfulness. And when she talks about playfulness, she’s not necessarily talking about kind of fixed games with fixed rules and an outcome. It’s more about just that sense of exploring something without a a determined end goal. Right? Thank you Kirsty Kirsty’s. Just put the link to the podcast episode with Lucy in the chat.

So if anybody wants to open that up now that’s there. And obviously as creative people, many of you will define yourselves as artists and that might not necessarily feel like a form of play for you anymore. I think often when we monetize a, a hobby or a passion or something that we’ve got joy from, that can suck the joy out of it.

So it might be about finding a different way to bring playfulness back into that practice. And again, these are all kind of different ways of accessing that. And I think it’s really important that we do partially because not only does it lead to better solutions, but as Brian Sutton Smith says, the opposite of play is not work. It’s depression. And I think this work, this environmentalism work is probably gonna be the work of our lifetimes. And burnout is a very real risk in any form of activism work. And so it’s important that we find a way to engage with it that is sustainable over the long term. And that’s not about sort of this idea of my self-care is more important than the world’s issues. Of course it’s not.

It’s about saying, how can I best show up that question? Those questions we talked about at the very beginning, how do I do my best creative work? What is the soil? And that’s what a lot of tomorrow is gonna be about. What’s the soil in which I need to thrive? And that sense of playfulness is often a way of connecting with that intrinsic motivation.

How are we doing for time? Amazing. Cool. So tomorrow we’re gonna be looking at grow that idea of cultivating the compost that you need. I’m going to be sharing with you my five stage path to sustainability, which is the sort of the backbone of the membership. It’s the, it’s the transformation for want of a better word that my members are all working through in order to become more sustainable.

So I’m gonna give you an introduction to that so you can take away some actions that you can take right now to move along that journey. We are gonna talk about this idea of lifelong learning, the environmental spaces constantly adapting and sadly being flooded with misinformation. So how do we make sure we can trust our sources? And we’re also gonna talk about nurture and the idea of taking care of yourself, which we’ve touched on a little bit already. Awesome. Alright, cool. Cool. Well if nobody’s got any last questions, I will see you all tomorrow for day three where we will be digging into grow.


Thank you for listening to this slightly different episode of the podcast which was a replay of one of the free lunchtime sessions I’m doing every day we commencing 20th of November 2023. If you enjoyed it, I would love to connect with you on Instagram. The making design circular Instagram is linked to in the show notes. And you might also want to follow my newsletter, the link to that is also in the show notes. If you’re listening before midnight on Sunday, the third of December the doors to the making design circular membership are open. And if you’ve enjoyed this episode, you are going to love the membership. So go and check that out, I would very much love to see you in there. If you’re listening after midnight on Sunday, the third of December then the link to the waiting list is in the show notes. And you can sign up to be the first to hear next time those doors open. I want to say a huge thank you to everybody who joined the workshops live, to everybody who’s listened on the podcast and also to the brilliant Kirsty Spain who edits these podcasts so that they make it into your ears. Thank you.


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