How podcasting can find hope in the climate crisis.
Vol. 20 - An anti-climactic Canadian podcasting mystery and Pippa Johnstone dishes on climate crisis podcasting.
Hihi!! Happy Pod the North Tuesday! 92 days until I’m drowning in seafood and excellent East Coast vibes!
In this issue:
What the heck is canadian-podcasts.com?
Pippa Johnstone says creating Expectant could be a metaphor for climate work.
Canadian Indie: Vulgur History
True North Podcast Feature: Tongue Unbroken
Awards to register for and a speaking opportunity for black podcasters!
ICYMI: There are currently 31 long-term drinking water advisories in effect in 27 First Nations communities across Canada.
Where did this Canadian Podcast directory come from?
A few months ago I stumbled upon canadian-podcasts.com and was stoked.
If you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, you’ll be familiar with my regular complaints about how difficult it can be to actually find podcasts made by Canadians. Unless a podcast has included the word “Canada” or “Canadian” in its title or description, there’s really no way of knowing — quickly — were a podcast comes from.
When I tweeted about this directory however, many folks were skeptical…
I don’t blame anyone for the skeptisism, because this website is definitely mysterious.
Not only is it packed with well-known non-Canadian shows, its “contact” button doesn’t work and there is no about page or any explaination on how it’s curating its database. There’s also no where for Canadians to actually submit their own shows!
Who created this??
The folks at Podcamp Toronto directed me to podmailer.com, a practically identical website for podcasts in general.
Scouring through LinkedIn for folks working at Podmailer, like some sort of investigative True Crime host, only lead me to two web developpers in France.
So are there any Canadians at canadian-podcasts.com? Is canadian-podcasts.com even a real website? Doesn’t even actually care anyway?
If you’ve got any insights, I wanna hear ‘em! If YOU are canadian-podcasts.com, email me!
For now, the mystery continues.
Thoughts from the ecosystem:
Pippa Johnstone says creating Expectant could be a metaphor for climate work.
At her day job, Pippa is a Showrunner at Pacific Content, but over the last few years she’s also been working on her “little indie thing”, a reminder that regardless of how fast-paced this industry can feel, there’s no shame in taking the time — years even — to create something you’re proud of and to remember why you fell in love with podcasts in the first place.
Expectant is a podcast that unpacks the question, “should I have kids during the climate crisis?” through a wonderful blend of fictional scripting, sound design, and real-life interviews. The format of the show itself is a big endevour, but it’s also a big question to face head-on and certainly one that’s been weighing on my mind. I was anxious but excited to dive into it and have not be disappointed!
“It's this culmination of creative art, anxiety, and climate anxiety. They go hand in hand,“ Pippa told me, which is a weirdly inspiring thought for me. When you’re a freelance podcast producer and constantly focused on other people’s shows, it can start to become difficult to see podcasting as personal creative outlet.
I talked to Pippa about her journey creating her first independent podcast, how she navigated unpacking such a big topic, and how podcasting can help us find hope in the climate crisis.
Here’s my chat with Pippa:
This interview has been edited for brevity.
KL: It’s a lot to take on a project like this independently, both in terms of just unpacking the question of “should I have a kid in the climate crisis” and just getting the podcast out the door! Did you feel a sense of urgency making it or were you chill and just like, “I’m just going to do my best”?
PJ: Oh, it didn't feel chill! It took a long time.
In imagining this project, I was first exploring the question of having kids in the climate crisis as a stage play — my background's in live theater.
The show is a hybrid between fiction and non-fiction. I had done a lot of interviews, so I was going to use the tape in the theater piece. Then when the pandemic hit and I decided to pivot, [podcasting] was a really natural transition that I think actually enhanced the story in some ways.
But yeah, it's been sitting with me for a really long time, and honestly, I'm very excited to get it out the door because it's a lot to sit with a question like this for this long in a creative way.
KL: No kidding! I am 30 years old and have a lot of questions around having kids myself. How much of this was a personal thing for you?
PJ: When it started I was in my mid to late twenties and it was hypothetically a good question, but I felt a lot “chiller” about it. At that time it seemed intellectually interesting to me and I saw a lot of my older cousins who I'm really close to going through this, and older friends in my life who are approaching this. And I was like, it's a really interesting topical question.
As I've been developing it over the course of years, over the course of myself getting older, with more IPCC reports coming out, et cetera, it's become a lot more pressing and heavier to talk about.
When I first was making this project I was like, ‘I straight up wanna have kids’. And I still feel really hopeful about the prospect of having kids. This show is in no way coming up with an opinion. I think it's deepening the way we approach the question, because there is no right answer unfortunately.
This show lives in the world of fiction, so that allowed me to create a little bit of distance between myself and this character. But it's a very confessional piece, and I think putting it in the world of fiction made me feel a little bit braver.
KL: It's an interesting choice because it almost seems like a topic that you’d get on an episode of The Cut! But adding in the narrative and fictional element is a really cool approach.
PJ: Honestly, it's the purest reflection of how this question actually lives inside my brain because when I think about it, there's fantasy, there's beautiful imaginations of what the future could look like, there's big scary images of what the future could look like. There's the voices of my family and my friends bouncing around inside my head. There's voices of experts bouncing around inside my head. It's sort of a mash of truly, how this question bounces around inside my skull.
I think fiction and non-fiction can live together to help us tell these types of stories.
Something in your trailer reminded me of it, and it’s the soundbite of a woman who says something along the lines of, “having kids in this time is an act of optimism and hope”.
PJ: My mom!
KL: Your mom! Thinking about Climate Vision 2050 and Expectant, do you think maybe there's a new era of climate crisis podcasts that are more optimistic? What’s your sense of climate crisis podcasts?
PJ: I feel like Expectant explores the gamut. There's definitely dread and anxiety and fear in it. But I really think, “what's the point if we don't have hope?”.
The thing that really makes me feel good is the people who I talk to who are boots on the ground doing climate work every single day; they're hopeful, they're motivated.
There is hope to be found out there. Hope is in talking about it and not burying our heads in the sand. But I think talking about it actually has opened up new channels of hope and freedom for me.
I don't know about the podcasting space at large, but I think that we need a lot of help imagining positive futures. We know what the problems are, I don't need to put that into my ears every day. I wanna know what we're fighting for. There's room for everything, but I think optimism makes life palatable.
KL: I'm not gonna lie, I think I'm a coward in that way where I really haven't listened to many climate crisis podcasts because it just creates a lot of anxiety in me!
PJ: Oh my God, totally. Making this show for me felt like a place to put a lot of that anxiety and a place to put some of that energy, because if you just let it sit inside you, it sort of corrodes you.
KL: Did you learn anything that you didn't expect when you were making the show? About podcasting, about the climate crisis, or about parenthood?
PJ: Oh, one thing that's funny about the process of making this show is that it took me so long that some people who were on the fence [about having children] when I interviewed them, have babies who are walking now – several people!
And these are people who are thinking about the climate crisis more deeply and more daily than the average people. There are just so many people who are so engaged in this question who are still having kids and doing it so thoughtfully. That really inspires me in certain ways.
And then there are a lot of people who are thinking really beautifully and consciously about living child-free lives and what that could look like and how expansive that could be, and how they could be a service to their communities. And that was also really inspiring!
In the process of making this show, I started off with not a ton of anxiety and built anxiety over the course of several years. Then there was a chunk of time last year, where I had to put it away. I was like ‘I can't look at this for maybe six months’.
KL: Was it anxiety about the question or anxiety about making the podcast?
PJ: It was about the question. Having an artistic outlet felt good, but just having to face the question felt bad. Then I came back to it with renewed vigor and I'm excited to be really putting it out.
I think one thing that I've really learned about through the arc of my own anxiety around this question was [how] the “post” stage of podcast production has been so enriching to me.
I brought on my composer, who's a friend of like 20 years of mine. I brought on an incredible sound designer, Robyn Edgar. I brought in my cousin to make the artwork for the show. I just started sharing the show and putting it out there and getting people to read the script before I voiced it. Just having collaborators on the project has made me feel so much less anxious about the entire thing.
That to me is maybe a metaphor for climate work as well. You sit with something completely by yourself in the early stages of thinking about a question like this, or anxiety stages – it's bouncing around inside your head and it's horrible to carry by yourself. But then when you share and when you build community, it's feels doable and it feels powerful, exciting, and possible.
I'm feeling more optimistic in the post stage than I ever have before and that surprised me a lot. This is the beginning of me thinking about how community factors into art making and into climate work, and how those things can kind of fuel each other.
This show just totally is from the heart. It spends a lot of time with my mom, my close friends, my family and experts who I am obsessed with and admire so much. It's been a total labor of love. I've never done an indie show before and it's vulnerable in a new way, but it's also like, let's really push the envelope of how sound can support a question like this.
What Pippa is loving:
Check out this Canadian Indie: Vulgur History
A feminist women's history comedy podcast.
Ann Foster explores the scandalicious stories of people from olden times.
True North Podcast Feature: Tongue Unbroken
Native American language revitalization and decolonization.
Through the eyes and mind of a multilingual Indigenous person who is Lingít, Haida, Yupʼik and Sami. This podcast explores complex concepts of identity, resilience, erasure, and genocide and features guests involved in language revitalization and decolonial efforts in Alaska, the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.
What’s going on in Canada’s podcast ecosystem:
Détours from Canadaland is coming to Montreal! Catch the podcast’s first live podcast recording, IN FRENCH, on June 8th. Host, Emilie Nicolas, will be joined by a panel of guests to discuss increasing online hate towards women and much more. Get your tickets now!
Another update from Canadaland… a new season of COMMONS is here! In Canada, hockey is more than a sport. It’s a civic religion with a billion-dollar business attached to it — the Catholic Church on ice. The new season explores the cult of hockey, scrutinizing its doctrines and exposing its secrets. Listen here!
Parenting is Joke’s Ophira Eisenburg was recently a part of an awesome collab! She joined the hosts of Midnight Burger, Paranormgirl and many more on Jim Harold’s Campfire to tell personal spooky stories. Give it a listen!
CBC’s Personal Best is looking for guests! If you have a small, weird thing you’d like to improve about yourself and live in the Toronto area, it’s your time to shine! Check out the casting call details here.
For your pod:
3 unique ways to grow an interview podcast. Tink Media’swrote a great piece over on the Descript blog that’s a must-read if your show is heavily based around interviews.
The Signal Awards - You have a month to register your podcast as registration closed June 30th. There are plenty of fun categories to check out and register for!
The Black Podcasting Awards - Registration is currently open through to July 31st with the awards happening in September. You can also enter into as many as 5 award categories!
The People’s Choice Podcast Awards - Registration is open, and listener voting runs from July 1-31. That means you have a month to plan out your compaign!
Apply to speak at Blk Pod Festival. If you have skills in podcast engineering, marketing or monetization, Blk Pod Festival wants to hear from you! Speaker applications are due July 15th.
Apple iPhone now offers live captions for podcasts. This is some great info to relay to your audience this month. Learn how to get them here.
Do you host your podcast on Ausha? Ausha is creating a women-focused podcast spotlight with Amazon Music! ️Submit your podcast to be considered for a 2-week spotlight by June 7th!
Just Joe (reminding me of his Open Door Policy)…
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Kattie | @Podkatt
(Find me on Twitter, Post, Spotify, and Goodpods)
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