Revolution of the imagination

The Sustainable Hour no. 473 | Podcast notes

The new story that will nourish life:” Our guests in The Sustainable Hour no. 473 are placemaker Gilbert Rochecouste from Village Well and clinical psychologist Louise Shepherd who works for a teal independent Member of Parliament.

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City developer Gilbert Rochecouste founded Village Well 30 years ago. He returns to this podcast after being here around three years ago. Like for all of us, much has changed for Village Well over that period.

Gilbert tells us that there have been significant quantum shifts in people’s search for meaning, a shift in consciousness and reimagining what it is to be community. What he calls ‘The Quickening’ and the ‘Time of the Great Turning’, which he thought would still be decades away, have now already arrived, he says.

He also mentions the significance of the United Nations Inner Development Goals.

“The key organising principle for The New Story is the story that will nourish life. We need to rethink ownership, create new ways of collaboration, and we need a new governance,” says Gilbert. “We need a radical, global, bottom-up revolution.”

In order to help this happen, Gilbert has co-founded the Epoch Institute “to reimagine people, place and planet”, as he says.

Village Well works with nearly 3,000 cities and towns around the world. Gilbert and his team believe doing good is good for business, and they know how to bring the spark to unleash creative potential. Village Well is Australia’s first placemaking consultancy – a ‘safe pair of hands’ – with proven success in connecting people to places for commercial outcomes.

The company’s Melbourne and Sydney teams have extensive experience in urban planning, place visioning, community engagement, retail precinct curation and management for property, educational institutions and government. Together with clients and communities, Village Well generates new narratives and practical action plans that bring places to life and facilitate public benefit balanced by commercial return.

​Through Village Well’s unique 5P lens – People, Product, Program, Physical Environment and Planet – their regenerative place-based approach has been tested and perfected to provide enduring value for our clients, their partners and communities.

→ More about Village Well on and

→ More about Epoch Institute on

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Louise Shepherd has spent the last 25 years working in clinical psychology and mental health. For the past decade she’s also worked as an executive coach – working with individuals and teams to help them make changes in their work and personal lives.

Following a big wake up call a few years ago at a psychology conference, she has been slowly transitioning her career to focus on climate and environmental action. She’s trained some therapists in becoming more climate aware, but felt like she wanted to do more. So she volunteered for Kylea Tink in the lead up to the May 2022 federal election.

Lou now works part time for the now federal member for North Sydney where she leads a team of volunteers on a project to reach net zero by 2035, the ‘Powering to Net Zero Team’. She’s transitioning away from three decades in mental health to use her psychology and coaching skills to influence millions of humans to make the necessary changes we need to have a safer future and prevent as much harm as possible.

She’s in the very early stages of writing a book that she’s been contemplating for a few months. The book idea is along the lines of imperfect climate action for busy and overwhelmed everyday people- who care and are concerned about the planet but aren’t doing a lot.

Lou wants to meet people where they are and help guide them with empathy and compassion to start taking values aligned steps towards protecting what they love. She wants to show the messy, hypocritical, imperfection of choosing to act, rather than bury one’s head in the sand. She’s hoping it will be something you could almost read on the loo, written in clear language with actionable steps to follow.

→ For those who want to know more about Louise, here’s her personal Instagram page which was launched last week:

→ Lou recommends one of her favourite podcast series for dealing with emotional rollercoaster as a climate activist – or anyone aware of the state of our precious planet:

→ A recent webpage Kylea’s volunteers worked on can be found here:

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We start today with two brief audio clips. First climate scientist David Karoly who recently told us: “It is going to get worse”. Then new Geelong Councillor Elise Wilkinson, who we interviewed in The Sustainable Hour no. 334 in 2020.

Mik Aidt enthusiastically kicks us off today with news that another candidate who campaigned under the #PutClimateFirst banner has been announced as the replacement for ex-Mayor and Councillor Stephanie Asher. Councillor Belinda Moloney ran on the same #PutClimateFirst ticket, and Sarah Hathway, who joined Geelong Council recently, has long been a climate activist. Could this mean that an entirely new level of climate consciousness and climate action could be coming to the Geelong City Hall?

The song we play a short excerpt from is Formidable Vegetable’s ‘Earth People Fair’.

In the intermission between the two interviews we play a trailer for People vs. Fossil Fuels’ march to end fossil fuels on 17 September, and The Project’s interview with Dr Kate Wylie on 3 August 2023.

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Colin Mockett OAM‘s Global Outlook this week begins in Reading in United Kingdom, where the European meteorological institute Copernicus issued a report saying that July of this year was, by a significant margin, the hottest month ever recorded. July 2023 was on average 1.5°C degrees Celsius warmer than temperatures before the industrial revolution. This surpassed the 1.5°C-degree warming limit set by the Paris Agreement, which all world leaders committed to preventing.

To Germany where thousands of passengers were stranded at Frankfurt Airport, when a storm led to significant flooding in the city on Wednesday last week. While rain and thunderstorms swept through central Germany, the airport was at a standstill, and around 100 flights were canceled or diverted due to water and weather. This happened a month after climate activists blocked runways at two other German airports to draw attention to the significant contribution of air traffic to global greenhouse gas emissions.

To the Spanish holiday destination the Canary Islands where up to 8,000 people have been evacuated or forced to stay indoors since the night of August 16th as flames raged on the island of Tenerife. “This is probably the most complex fire we have had in the Islands – if not ever, then at least in the last 40 years,” said regional president Fernando Clavijo, after a long night of firefighting. Sound familiar?

Then to India where at least 72 people have died in the aftermath of landslides and floods that have ravaged India’s Himalayan region since August 13th, when heavy rain hit the area. The Indian Meteorological Institute reported that parts of the state received around 273 millimeters of rain in 24 hours. Several people are still missing. Although flooding is a recurring event in India, their meteorologists say that climate change contributes to escalating their severity and frequency.

To Morocco where another record temperature was recorded. Friday, August 11th marked the hottest day ever recorded. For the first time, the coastal city of Agadir recorded a temperature above 50 degrees Celsius. The heatwaves in Morocco have also led to wildfires in August. Morocco’s National Agency for Water and Forestry announced that the country had already experienced 182 forest fires that have consumed 1,200 hectares of land.

To Scandinavia, where August brought Storm Hans which ravaged Norway and Sweden – where the two countries experienced some of the worst floods ever recorded. The floods disrupted power supplies in many places, thousands of citizens had to be evacuated, and a bridge collapsed due to the damages.

Do you want to hear about Slovenia? They’ve just recorded what has been called “The worst natural disaster in Slovenia’s history,” by Prime Minister Robert Golob. They had a whole month’s rainfall in less than a day which caused vast areas to be flooded, and damages have been registered for more than 500 million euros.

Now China, which was hit by the strongest storm in years, causing a landslide that claimed the lives of 21 people in the western city of Xi, according to Associated Press reports. This was in the wake of Typhoon Doksuri which ravaged China with record rainfall and floods. It’s the most powerful storm to hit the Chinese mainland since Typhoon Saomai in 2006.

China is accustomed to significant amounts of rain during the summer, but this year’s situation has been more intense, with major floods in some parts of the country and drought in others. The Chinese government reported that 142 people died due to floods and landslides in July alone.

Typhoon Doksuri also caused destruction and claimed lives in the Philippines. At least nine people lost their lives due to flooding, fallen trees, and landslides. The loss of life culminated on Thursday, where 26 people died when a powerful storm led to a ferry sinking just 46 meters off the coast of Manila.

The Philippines is frequently hit by severe typhoons and storms, but it’s the same story – they are becoming more destructive and more frequent. Scientists have linked this trend to human-induced climate change, while the country accounts for less than 0.4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

And finally, in a historic referendum, Ecuadorians voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to halt drilling in the Amazon Yasuni National Park. The historic referendum also calls for Equator’s government to dismantle fossil fuel infrastructure within a year and begin reforestation throughout the country. And that positive note ends our roundup for the week.

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That’s it for this week for The Sustainable Hour podcast. Never forget the deaths mentioned in Colin’s Global Outlook are not just statistics. They are real people with real loved ones. All indications are that we in Australia won’t be spared during our rapidly approaching summer, when many real Aussies will be added to the ever increasing list of deaths from extreme weather events.

Meanwhile our federal government continues to approve toxic fossil fuel projects completely ignoring the science that is screaming itself hoarse that ALL fossil fuels have to stay in the ground if we want to have any hope of stopping these atrocities. What duty of care?

As part of Australia’s independent media, we will continue to challenge these decisions and will continue to do all that we can to turn this around. For politicians it’s all about numbers.

Is it worth noting two upcoming events that you can take part in, if you want to be the difference: Melbourne Town Hall meeting on 9 September, and the film screening at the Geelong Village Cinema on 17 September. See the calendar below.

“That is the work of this century: The story that will nourish life. Because everything else extracts. And we know that. Everything we do. So we need new social innovations, new ways of governance, new ways of thinking, new ways of designing cities, new ways of agriculture.

And I think the regenerative piece is really important, because I think, as we’re preparing for floods and fires and more extremes… We’re working with an organisation called Resilient Co at the Epoch Institute that’s working with probably up to 200 to 300 communities in the next few years, preparing them. But the missing piece there is: Sure, we need to prepare, but what about the imagination? How are we to work? How are we to create new ways of collaboration? What about the gifting economy? …that wants to be born.

And all of these things around new governance frameworks of co-ops, and working four days a week, all of these things are about reimagining new ways of being.”

~ Gilbert Rochecouste, founder of Village Well

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We at The Sustainable Hour would like to pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we
are broadcasting, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respect to their elders, past, present and future.

The traditional owners lived in harmony with the land. They nurtured it and thrived in often harsh conditions for millennia before they were invaded. Their land was then stolen from them – it wasn’t ceded. It is becoming more and more obvious that, if we are to survive the climate emergency we are facing, we have much to learn from their land management practices.

Our battle for climate justice won’t be won until our First Nations brothers and sisters have their true justice. When we talk about the future, it means extending our respect to those children not yet born, the generations of the future – remembering the old saying that, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”
The decisions currently being made around Australia to ignore the climate emergency are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How disrespectful and unfair is that?

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Emergency Town Hall meeting in Melbourne

When we come together and get organised we can achieve results that can help prevent the worst outcomes of the climate emergency.

Saturday 9 September 2023 at 1pm

Tickets on Eventbrite

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Gilbert Rochecouste

Gilbert Rochecouste: We need a revolution of the imagination

Full interview with Gilbert Rochecouste in The Sustainable Hour no. 473

Transcript – excerpt
Mik Aidt:
“In The Sustainable Hour last week, we had an entire hour talking about the climate revolution and what that could look like. Tell me about ‘the revolution of the imagination’. What does that look like?”

Gilbert Rochecouste: “Well, I think that’s actually the biggest revolution. Because what we are in now is a battle of stories. And if we can’t imagine the New Story… – and can I just say: The key organising principle here for the New Story, it’s a story that nourishes life.
I’ll say that again:
That is the work of this century: The story that will nourish life. 
Because everything else extracts. And we know that. Everything we do. 
So we need new social innovations, new ways of governance, new ways of thinking, new ways of designing cities, new ways of agriculture.
And I think the regenerative piece is really important, because I think, as we’re preparing for floods and fires and more extremes… We’re working with an organisation called Resilient Co at the Epoch Institute that’s working with probably up to 200 to 300 communities in the next few years, preparing them. But the missing piece there is: Sure, we need to prepare, but what about the imagination? How are we to work? How are we to create new ways of collaboration? What about the gifting economy? …that wants to be born.
And all of these things around new governance frameworks of co-ops, and working four days a week, all of these things are about reimagining new ways of being.
But we don’t have time to reinvent our institutions.
That’s the elephant in the room.
I want to say, folks: We’ve only got years, not decades.
So we’ve got to go inside our – as Joanna Macy, one of my teachers, a deep ecologist says – we gotta go into those institutions and reimagine them, and it’s going to take thousands if not millions of people within these institutions.
Remember, there are three areas of work: 
The holding: let’s hold on to the life support systems, so we don’t lose our top soil, air quality, water.
The second one is working in the systems. Really critical. And they’re all equally important.
And the third one is: the shift in consciousness. Reimagining the story.
If we can’t get that right, then we are gone. 
So, we’re at the major crossroads – we’re probably at the global tipping point for the last 400 to 500 years of two road maps: one is mutually assured destruction, and one will move towards creating a more thrivable [society]…
And it’s gonna be clunky. It’s gonna be messy. It’s gonna be hard. We’re gonna cry with each other. But we gotta hold each other together. Because it’s gonna be about… The key word for me is: community. Reimagining what it is to be community.”

Three minute excerpt of the interview with Gilbert Rochecouste: “Revolution of the imagination”
Lou Shepherd

Lou Shepherd: We need a teal revolution

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#PutClimateFirst candidate becomes councillor

Elise Wilkinson

Elise Wilkinson, who ran on the #PutClimateFirst agenda at the Geelong Council election in 2020, and who we interviewed together with the four other Geelong #PutClimateFirst candidates – Elise is now stepping up to become a Councillor, after Stephanie Asher has stepped back, and the Bellarine votes were counted again. Congratulations, Elise!

“Every-man-for-himself politics will have to yield to we’re-all-in-this-together; otherwise, it’s going to be far grimmer than it already is.”
~ Bill McKibben, American author and co-founder of

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Fossil Ad Ban in the news

In recent weeks Fossil Ad Ban were actually out of the news, after complaints resulted in some of their social media accounts being temporarily suspended. It came after they had posted a meme where Fossil Ad Ban revealed pro-gas Twitter accounts and those that followed them.

They would of course hate it if you shared these posts again on X and Instagram.

Fossil Ad Ban continues in their newsletter:
Who knew that ExxonMobil cared so much about kids?

The petroleum giant is sponsoring Kids Safe Victoria and contributed to a safety information stand at Monash Children’s Hospital. See their logo on this home safety checklist for new mums. So cute!

We’re sure this enthusiasm for child-friendly marketing in Victoria has nothing to do with the following facts:

• Exxon (Esso) wants to expand the Gippsland Basin gas fields 

• ExxonMobil is trying to get approval for a greenwashing Carbon Capture & Storage facility

• Victoria’s looming ban on gas in new homes.

Want to know how much Exxon really cares about kids? Read about how it fought against regulations on phthalates, a chemical found in plastic toys linked to cancer, neurodevelopmental effects, endocrine disruption, and adverse harm to the male reproductive system.”

Follow Fossil Ad Ban on Twitter/X

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→ Sydney Morning Herald – 24 August 2023:
Australian fossil fuel subsidies costing taxpayers $65 billion a year: IMF
“An International Monetary Fund report, released on Thursday, found that worldwide fossil fuel subsidies spiked to nearly $11 trillion in 2022, or 7.1 per cent of global GDP.”

→ Daily Telegraph – 20 August 2023:
‘Time is now’: Scientist urge governments to fund Southern Ocean and Antarctica research to stop climate changes
“Over 300 leading scientists from across the world travelled to Hobart to discuss the challenges our Southern Ocean faces.”

→ Time – 6 July 2023:
Human Adaptation to Heat Can’t Keep Up With Human-Caused Climate Change
“The truth is, extreme heat is remaking our planet into one in which large swaths may become inhospitable to human life.”

→ The Guardian – 5 March 2023:
‘Everyone should be concerned’: Antarctic sea ice reaches lowest levels ever recorded
“With the continent holding enough ice to raise sea levels by many metres if it was to melt, polar scientists are scrambling for answers.”

→ Michael West Media – 16 August 2023:
Transparency Net Zero: new fossil fuel approvals by Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek on the up
“Tanya Plibersek’s first year of being Minister for Environment and Water has seen three coal and gas-related projects approved, still less than the last year of the Coalition government. There are probably approvals to come, but transparency is sorely lacking.” Article by Callum Foote

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Canberra Times – 23 August 2023:

Govt keeping secrets about the biggest threat to our future

By David Spratt

It’s a no-brainer: China is the greatest threat to Australians’ future. The government and the opposition and the Sinophobic commentators tell us so. Often. Then there is AUKUS, the Quad, the endless regional hand-shaking, more joint military exercises, nuclear-powered submarines and upgraded US bases in Australia’s north.
But there is a much greater security threat that the government seems determined to keep secret.

The World Economic Forum each year surveys public and private sector global leaders on the biggest risk the world faces and publishes the results. Their 2023 survey finds that the biggest three risks in the decade from now were all climate-related, whilst “geo-economic confrontation” (read China) came in ninth.

In 2021, the respected UK think tank Chatham House analysed the risks of climate disruption and came to a startling conclusion: global demand for food would increase 50 per cent by 2050, while crop yields would fall 20 to 30 per cent due to drought and desertification, extreme heat and chronic water shortages. The average proportion of global cropland affected by severe drought would likely rise to 32 per cent a year by 2050, and in Australia closer to 40 per cent a year. The report concluded that cascading climate impacts will “drive political instability and greater national insecurity, and fuel regional and international conflict”.

US intelligence agency reports identify south and central Asia, the Pacific small island states and Indonesia as “highly vulnerable countries” of concern for climate disruption. South Asia, China and Indonesia are identified by the World Resources Institute as countries where water stress will be “extremely high” by 2040.

Retired Admiral Chris Barrie, former Chief of the Australian Defence Force, has said repeatedly that brutal climate impacts will produce state instability and failure in both Asia and the Pacific, including in some of the most populous nations. This is especially true for those with semi-democratic governments and existing insurgencies, either domestically or in neighbour states.

Given these prospects, it was a welcome relief that the Albanese government shortly after coming to office ordered Australia’s first climate-security risk assessment. This was delivered by the Office of National Intelligence to cabinet in November 2022.

Since then the Prime Ministers’ Office has refused to release a declassified version of the report, despite the fact that our allies have released declassified versions of their climate-security analyses.

Nor has anyone in the government been willing to speak publicly about the main findings, or the issue more broadly.

A federal government cone of silence has descended over the greatest threat to the human security of Australians, their well-being, health and safety in a hotter world.

If a government’s first duty is to “protect the people”, surely the first step is to level with them about the risks we face. It seems that even parliamentarians, including those who sit on the foreign affairs and defence committees, have not been fully briefed on the national intelligence report. It is inconceivable that MPs and senators could do their job of formulating and reviewing policy and performance on this greatest of all threats if the national security committee of cabinet will not share with them intelligence analysis on the form and severity of that risk.

Last week, ACT Senator David Pocock, Greens Senator David Shoebridge, and MPs Helen Haines, Monique Ryan, Andrew Wilkie, and Kate Chaney joined Admiral Barrie to insist on the release of a declassified version of the report. Orders by both the Greens and Pocock for the production of the report to the Senate were voted down, with Labor joining with the Coalition to oppose the move.

Senator Pocock said that “we are not getting an open and transparent conversation about the big issues of risk”, whilst the Greens said the security report would help parliamentarians to “weigh up predicted wars, water shortages and supply chain collapses against every new coal and gas approval”.

Labor’s resistance to revealing the intelligence office findings has two likely causes. First, that the report’s frank intelligence assessment has deeply shocked cabinet members, exposing the gross inadequacy of the government’s current climate stance; and secondly, that it undermines their preferred security narrative focusing on China.

Concealing the intelligence analysis is the opposite of good security policy governance. It means we face a threat that we cannot even talk about.

David Spratt is research director for Breakthrough.

Australian-first technology boosts Victoria’s recycling

“Significant investment in technology like this will pave the way towards a more sustainable Victoria.”
~ Christine Couzens, Member for Geelong in the Victorian Parliament

The Albanese and Andrews Labor Governments is driving Victoria’s recycling capacity – diverting tonnes of plastics from landfill each year.

Member for Geelong, Christine Couzens has announced GT Recycling, located in Moolap, will recycle an additional 7,900 tonnes of plastics including polyethylene pipe and other large plastic products used by the construction and agricultural sectors.

The waste, previously exported due to its size, will now be recycled in Australia and reprocessed into valuable new products.

The Albanese Government’s Recycling Modernisation Fund is accelerating Australia’s circular economy so that when a product is no longer useful or required for its initial purpose, it is either reused, recycled or remanufactured.

Projects already announced under the Recycling Modernisation Fund will add over 1 million tonnes of processing capacity every year, keeping Australia’s waste out of landfill and supporting new jobs.

When combined with co-investment from all states and industry, the Recycling Modernisation Fund will give a $1 billion boost to Australian recycling.

The Andrews Labor Government’s funding is a part of a $515 million investment to transform the state’s waste and recycling sector, including $380 million under the government’s circular economy policy Recycling Victoria: a new economy.

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Events we have talked about in The Sustainable Hour

Events in Victoria

The following is a collation of Victorian climate change events, activities, seminars, exhibitions, meetings and protests. Most are free, many ask for RSVP (which lets the organising group know how many to expect), some ask for donations to cover expenses, and a few require registration and fees. This calendar is provided as a free service by volunteers of the Victorian Climate Action Network. Information is as accurate as possible, but changes may occur.



List of running petitions where we encourage you to add your name

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