Cover image of The Overview Effect with James Perrin

The Overview Effect with James Perrin

The Overview Effect is the cognitive shift astronauts experience when viewing Earth from space; where the way they see the world changes and they come back to Earth profoundly connected to nature and community. What would our world look like if we lived from the perspective of this ‘Overview Effect’? Join James Perrin as he speaks with influential thinkers, environmentalists, humanitarians, and businesspeople to explore some of the problems we currently face, and the opportunities and solutions to come from them. James builds upon his background as a chemical engineer who has been at the forefront of the good business/B-Corp movement in Australia, and as someone who has launched not-for-profit initiatives and given countless public talks on environmentalism and ethical business.

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Michael Leung sees shelter as a connection to the natural world

When we think about our homes and how central they are to our very existence (our lives literally revolve around them), you would think that we would place the ABSOLUTE utmost importance and sacredness on both the land and the buildings Yet we continue to develop new structures that we don’t necessarily need, without consideration of the natural landscape and conditions, using mass produced materials from all over the world, that are making us sick. Then any issues that arise in these homes we just band-aid with technology like air conditioning, lighting, fencing, etc. Here in Australia we are in the middle of a housing crisis where less and less people are able to find (even rent let alone actually own) a home, yet we have the biggest homes in the world with more space than we could ever need The combination of cheap loans (which means people are maximising their mortgages just because they can and so are buying to a budget rather than buying to a need) and cheap homes (made from destructive materials with a lot of dead space), leads to these massive social & health issues and enormous environmental destruction The building and housing industry is such a prime example of how out off-track big business is taking us. It’s making people want more than they need, and then through industrialisation, commoditisation, & standardisation, the big global businesses control all of the supply chain, have massive marketing budgets, and a stranglehold on the industry such that alternative, local, and sustainable methods of building are SO hard to come by that most of us don’t even bother to go and find out because it’s just too hard and we don't know where to start! I could go on! This rant could seriously go on for much longer but I’m going to introduce you to just one person who is turning this tide… Michael Leung is an architect and Co-Founder of Balanced Earth, a building company that is completely changing the way we look at shelter both through natural and appropriate design as well as the use of local and natural materials, particularly Hempcrete Hempcrete, that is concrete made from hemp, has such unbelievable benefits for both human health & environment that when you learn about it you'll wonder why we don’t use it everywhere This is about more than just building a house. This is a conversation about questioning the status quo. It’s a conversation about educating ourselves and each other about alternative ways of living outside of the norm, and so much more


7 Nov 2021

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Franck Gazzola sees outside the comfort zone

Have you ever had a dream that you’ve wanted to pursue, but haven’t known how to get there? What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? My guest today, Franck Gazzola, is a living example of an ‘everyday man’ who redirected his life towards the extraordinary He’s an underwater and adventure photographer who’s most well-known for his work with Under the Pole; a series of underwater expeditions gathering scientific information whilst inspiring and educating people us life under our seas His work has found him diving in the Arctic north of Greenland, documenting stunning tropical coral reefs, and even being one of very few people who has lived and slept at the bottom of the ocean for days at a time! As if that wasn’t enough of a premise for an incredible conversation, his story of how he became who he is, is even more impactful You see, he wasn’t born into an exploration family. He wasn’t an overly adventurous guy. He wasn’t even a photographer until a few years ago But one day, after spending 15 years in the corporate world he took up photography as a hobby, and just persisted with it. He started displaying his work in a local gallery (often facing criticism) but continued to put himself out there day after day Then, he was asked one of those special questions by a friend: “What would be your ultimate assignment as a photographer?” He recalled his childhood in France and being inspired by Jacques Cousteau, which led to an introduction with some French marine explorers who, originally, didn’t need a photographer. But he kept knocking on the door and putting himself out there They finally said ‘Yes, you can join us’, then laughed after hearing his inexperience in diving. So, unrelentingly, he packed in his corporate job, did nothing but diving for 6 months straight, then was off to the North Pole This is a story about someone who has been willing to be constantly outside of his comfort zone, and be a beginner time and time and time again This is a conversation about following your dreams. That might be leaving your day job to travel the globe adventuring, or it might be just caring for your community around the corner and doing something meaningful Whatever your dreams are, this conversation has so many lessons to help you get there We went deep on this one; it’s uncut and long-form… put the kettle on and enjoy

1hr 29mins

11 Oct 2021

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Zenith Virago sees death as our birthright

What do you think will happen when you die? Do you contemplate your own death? Or the death of your loved ones; maybe your partner or even your kids? It might sound weird for me to ask those questions, but why? Death is the most natural part of life. We’re all going to die at some stage. It should be one of the most familiar parts of our society, yet for whatever reason we shield ourselves from death. We tell our children lies about the dog running away. We put blankets and sheets over bodies at the hospital. We allow private companies to take our loved ones away and bury or cremate them for us, thus separating us from experiencing that natural process. My guest today, Zenith Virago, is a 'deathwalker', or 'death doula'. She works with people who are dying, dead, or bereaved and she helps to usher them through the process of dying; both the philosophical and emotional elements as well as the practical and legal options of what we can do in those situations. In this conversation we cover a lot of things, including how the medical system classifies death as a failure and the influence that this view has on our society. Ee talk about the language around having a 'battle' or 'fight' with death as if we’re fighting Nature and separate from it. We talk about the patriarchy and how we live in a world run by boys, not real men and women, and the influence of commercialisation of the death industry and how it disconnects us from the process and emotions that we go through when we’re around death in a natural way. We talk about her experiences as a child and the small moments that have added up over time to make her stand up for who she is and what she believes in. And, like so many things, we talk about how we can question the status quo and take responsibility of and accountability for what happens in our life, including navigating death!


22 Sep 2021

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David Holmgren sees a resilient future (live @ Renew Fest)

I have a treat for you today. This episode is the final live headline conversation from Renew Fest in May, with living legend, esteemed author, thinker, and Co-Originator of the permaculture concept, David Holmgren. We’ve all heard of permaculture; it’s been a massive movement and so many people have taken on the concepts of permaculture design into their homes and gardens. So rather than just talk about what permaculture is or how we implement it, I wanted to take the opportunity step back and ask David about where it came from. Why did he feel the need to develop it in the first place? Truly, it was birthed from David’s perspectives on what the future could look like, the challenges we may face as society, and what behaviours we can cultivate now to change our trajectory.  In this live conversation, we dive into his 'Future Scenarios' work, where he shares the potential futures we could face which he calls: Techno explosion Techno stability Energy descent Collapse We talk about our global over-reliance on centralised corporations and governments, and the importance of cultivating both self-reliance (taking things into our own hands) as well as collective reliance (building community connections). And of course, we dive into the content of his most recent book, Retrosuburbia: The Downshifters Guide to a Resilient Future. This is a truly incredible book which covers so much content about our built world, our biological world, and our behavioural paradigms. David is a rare mix of highly intellectual and genuinely down-to-earth and human. You're going to love this one.


2 Sep 2021

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Danny Almagor sees a life without borders

Are you feeling burnt out at everything happening in the world at the moment? Recently we’ve had lockdowns, the IPCC report, the Afghanistan crisis, ongoing environmental campaigns such as PEP11, the Daintree, and the Tarkine, and we have ever increasing border restrictions. Overlaid over all of this in media and social media is this increased polarisation of society; where people with differing beliefs are placing themselves and others in opposing camps and arguing and fighting with each other. And it’s intensifying. My hope is that today’s conversation is a bit of an antidote to all of that… You see my guest today, Danny Almagor, is someone who has spent his life and career trying to break down these borders, walls, and divisions in society. He founded Engineers Without Borders Australia in 2003, and has since moved on to co-found Small Giants, which is an organisation that creates, supports, and nurtures businesses that shift us to a more equitable and regenerative world. They are truly trying to usher in the next economy based on passion, purpose, and empathy. Small Giants were one the pioneers of the B-Corp movement in Australia. Some of the organisations under their umbrella include Impact Investment Group, Dumbo Feather, The Sociable Weaver, and many more, and they now have the Small Giants Academy, which focuses on education, training, and transformational journeys for leaders of the next economy. In this conversation we start by talking about Engineers Without Borders, and how even the name ‘without borders’ implies that traditionally, normally, we HAVE borders. And that this mentality creates a duality, or ‘otherness’ or society, and that if you are one you must not be the other. We talk about how this mentality plays out so destructively especially in the political and business worlds, and how, if we want to truly change and usher in this next economy or new world, we need to move past this way of thinking


18 Aug 2021

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Mehreen Faruqi sees social and environmental justice (live @ Renew Fest)

Today's episode is the second of three headline conversations that I hosted live at Renew Fest in May, and it's incredible to have such an energetic and progressive crowd in the background of the conversation. Mehreen Faruqi is a civil & environmental engineer, academic, lecturer, & researcher, and was Australia’s first female Muslim MP in the NSW house, and is now Australia’s first Federal Muslim Senator. In this conversation she shares her story of migrating to Australia in 1992 with her husband and 1 year old son, and how coming from Pakistan she just expected Australia to be this place that had it all figured out. You know, it’s a developed and wealthy country, it has good ‘metrics of success’ in terms of things like GDP and life expectancy, etc; and she tells how when she got here she experienced something completely different. She experienced what it’s like to be treated differently for being different. She found that struggle for equality is universal Now, being an engineer myself I have been ‘trained’, so to speak, to solve problems. Honestly that’s what I was told all throughout my studies. Here is a problem, find the parameters, the set of numbers that represents the problem at hand, find the right formula to crunch them or manipulate those parameters, then solve the problem and move onto the next one. Mehreen is an engineer too, but we don’t talk about the set of numbers or agenda items she's trying to 'solve' as a politician. We talk about BIG issues like racism, sexism, and environmental destruction, and how these are not problems that can be solved from that Engineering mindset. These issues are not isolated. They are coming from the same place, the same mentality, which is our lack of connection and relation to this planet and each other. We can’t solve these issues by having isolated solutions. She shares that when facing these societal issues we all have choices. Those choices include who we vote for and the leaders that we put in place at the top, but also the actions that we take and the grassroots community campaigns that we show up to and support, and that THEY WORK. With that, please enjoy this conversation, as well as the energy from the live crowd at Renew Fest, with Federal Senator, Mehreen Faruqi


5 Aug 2021

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Majell Backhausen sees life lessons on the trails

Have you ever taken something on that, at the time you thought, ‘I’m in over my head here, what am I doing?’ Maybe it was moving cities, changing careers, building a house, going on an adventure? For me, it was running a marathon. I remember exactly how it happened. I was living and working in New Zealand, and the company that I worked for had sponsored the Auckland marathon and encouraged staff to enter. I felt pretty fit, and all my workmates signed up to the 10 or 21km runs I don’t know why, but for whatever reason I signed up for the full marathon. It was a moment of inspiration, and I felt really good about it Now, I had NEVER run in a proper event before. Not even a fun run. I was healthy, but I was not, and still am not, by any stretch a gifted athlete And everyone around me started saying: “what are you doing? The full marathon? You’re crazy” All of a sudden I was terrified I trained a bit but also had a newborn so juggled my time, and like I said I had never done any serious running before, and I was getting all sorts of cramps and pains in my legs and feet Race day came and I remember riding on the ferry, in the darkness of the early morning, to the start line all alone. All around me were people who looked like serious athletes, they all had the gear, seemed to know one another, and my heart was POUNDING. I felt nauseous and I wanted to give up and go home The race started and I tried to keep pace with the 3:30 pacer. About halfway through he dropped me and shortly after that I started cramping in my calves. I ended up walk/jogging the rest of the way in pain. It was a struggle, and it sucked I limped across the line very un-ceremonially in about 4 and a half hours. Then I got in the car and drove home thinking I’d failed But then, after a rest and some food, it hit me. I did it. All I set out to do was finish and I achieved that, literally all on my own And then I had one of those life lesson moments where I said to myself: “What else am I capable of?” __ Now, my guest today has a similar, albeit far greater and far more impactful story He is someone who stumbled into the everyday 9-5 office work schedule as an engineer (nothing wrong with that), but he itched for something more and he tried to scratch that itch with footy and drinking beer But one day he left it all behind to live a dirtbag life as an ultra-runner He too, started with a casual marathon, which grew into ultramarathons which then took him all over the world. He has raced in famous events such as the 170km Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, and the 230km Marathon Du Sables, and he has WON events in places from New Zealand to Canada And more recently, he has been the trail lead or ‘race director’ for the takayna ultra in Tasmania (the event that I ran earlier this year) Not only that, he became actively involved in the rainforest protection campaign, supporting the blockade and even appearing in court in defence of protecting these forests He is now a co-founder of For Wild Places, a not-for-profit that holds events to raise awareness and funds to protect Nature through sports activism This is a conversation about questioning the comfort and leisure of life. It’s about how everyday people can do amazing things It’s about running, but more that, how a condensed event like running, or any other big life event, presents us with a metaphor to breakthrough and live a more conscious life So please enjoy this conversation with the brave, kind, and awkward, Majell Backhausen

1hr 12mins

19 Jul 2021

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Rachel Cavanagh sees connection to country (live @ Renew Fest)

It's NAIDOC week! A time to celebrate and amplify indigenous voices, and I have a great one for you on today’s episode This conversation was recorded live at Renew Fest back in May. It was SUCH an amazing festival with just the most incredible people, thinkers, talks, workshops, performances, and ceremonies. I highly recommend if you can to get out to Renew Fest next year Today's conversation was with one of the headline speakers, and over the next few weeks I will be sharing more of these live headline conversations from the festival, interspersed between my regular episodes My guest today, Rachel Cavanagh, is a Minjungbal and Yugambeh woman from Bundjalung Nation; she is also a firefighter and cultural fire and land management expert who has studied natural & cultural resource management, and has worked for the Forestry Corporation of NSW, the Forest Stewardship Council of Australia & NZ, and Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation. (So she knows a thing or two about cultural fire and land management practices) We talk about a lot of things in this yarn, starting with the impacts of 2019/20 bushfires – not just the devastating environmental destruction, but also the deep cultural loss that aboriginal people felt and continue to feel from those events We talk about society's mis-management of country, and how externalising the cause of these fires to something like climate change is over-simplifying things, and is really reflective of our disconnection to land and country as a whole We talk about the need to have people on-country and looking after it, and some of the problems that sections of the environmental movement are causing by saying we just need to let things re-wild And best of all she beautifully shares her perspective of what connection to country is, and how that looks, sounds, feels, and smells, and what we can do to re-build that connection in our own lives Happy NAIDOC week everybody, and please enjoy this conversation, live from Renew Fest, with Rachel Cavanagh


6 Jul 2021

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Kate Nelson sees sovereignty in quitting plastics

It’s coming up to July, and many people take part in Plastic Free July as an opportunity to assess and eliminate their plastic use for a month to have less impact on our planet We’re going to see a lot of stuff over the next few weeks about it on social media, so I thought I’d get ahead of the game here and have a conversation with the expert herself, someone who hasn’t used single use plastics in over TWELVE years, Plastic Free Mermaid But the thing about this conversation is, this is not just about some plastic reduction tips and tricks... this isn’t about fiddling at the margins and virtue signalling. This conversation is about how plastics are a very visual and very tangible example of our consumerist habits, and paints the picture of how we are enmeshed in a system which is damaging our planet and ourselves In this conversation we talk about the pervasiveness and horrific broad-scale impacts of plastics; not just a straw in the ocean or a coffee cup, but major pollution problems exported to developing countries, the issues of micro-plastics in our food system, the disruption of our endocrine system, the ties to the global oil industry, and much more We go into detail the issues with the recycling industry – how it’s actually a ‘down-cycling’ industry that just delays the inevitable pathway of plastics into our environment, that was created by the oil industry to convince us that plastics are ok to use (essentially, ‘greenwashing’) We also talk about environmental communication and we break down some examples of what works and draws people in, versus what fragments and divides people (we use the documentary Seaspiracy as an example of this) But the real core of this conversation is about how plastics are such a visible example of our general lack of accountability or responsibility of the impacts of our own lifestyle. We have this ‘put it in a bin and it’s gone’ mentality, which is so representative of the consumerist way of living that is imposed upon us But here’s the thing: once we step out of this paradigm (for her that meant quitting plastics), we realise ‘I just stepped out of that way of living...what else can I do?’ We start asking ourselves: 'What else in my life can I take responsibility and accountability for?' So this Plastic Free July don’t just cut out a straw or a cup, take stock of your buying habits. Take your own responsibility and accountability into your own hands. Take your sovereignty back for the way you live your lifestyle This is a great conversation to get you started down that track


23 Jun 2021

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Jess Melbourne-Thomas sees the gifts of both science and wisdom

This episode follows on from last episode in that it was recorded in Tasmania; I had just come out of the takayna rainforest and I headed down to the CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research offices in Hobart to speak with a scientist who is working on new ways to link science with other sources of knowledge, including traditional wisdom. It’s fitting that this episode is being released on World Oceans Day because she is a marine, atmospheric, and climate scientist who has studied ecosystems ranging from Indonesia to Antarctica. In this conversation we talk about her childhood experiences that built her deep connections with our ocean, and led her down this path to want to study and protect our marine ecosystems. We talk about the WAY science is presented, including the pressure environmental scientists feel when delivering ‘bad’ news and perhaps feeling the need to sugar coat it. We talk about her current role as a ‘Transdisciplinary Researcher & Knowledge Broker’, and we break down firstly what this is, and secondly, why this role is important. This includes discussing the limitations of science as we know it and use it in our current Westernised and corporatised system. She shares the importance of what she calls ‘Two-eyed seeing’; that is, not trying to blend science with traditional knowledge, but seeing the world through the lens of science in one eye, as WELL as traditional knowledge and wisdom in the other. As someone who comes from a STEMM background myself, it can be interesting at times to have these conversations with people about science being a tool in our arsenal and not the only way to see the world. We also talk about gender diversity in science, because she also co-founded Homeward Bound, which is a program to empower women and grow female leadership in the STEMM community. Oh, and on top of all of that she was the 2020 Tasmanian of the Year, and formerly a Rhodes Scholar. Please enjoy this conversation with Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas


7 Jun 2021