The Signal in the Noise

9.13.2021 - 9.20.2021

with Damon Centola

Elihu Katz Professor of Communication, Sociology, and Engineering
Director, Network Dynamics Group
Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics
University of Pennsylvania

Damon Centola discusses his new book, How to Make Big Things Happen, from a talk with Leila Conners.  At at time of fake news that is obscuring the pathway forward;  understanding how ideas move through society and how social tipping points occur, is crucial.  If you have ever wondered how to build a movement, why people might follow leaders that run counter to their interests and why social change unfolds the way it does, this is a must watch.  


Melissa Aguayo, of Break Free from Plastic and Reusable LA, brings us through the most recent developments in the movement to move away from plastic.  She reveals that plastic is toxic from creation to end-of-life and why producers and not just consumers should be responsible for cleaning up and eliminating the use of this substance. 

The Great Turning, the moment we are all confronting, in which everything is collapsing while we also find our way through to a better world. Joanna Macy brings us through her concept of the Great Turning from a discussion that is part of the Into Eden project, a feature film by Tree Media and supported by Kalieopia Foundation. Macy is an author & teacher, is a scholar of Buddhism, systems thinking and deep ecology. A respected voice in movements for peace, justice, and ecology, she interweaves her scholarship with learnings from six decades of activism.

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Leila Conners catches up with long-time environmentalist David Suzuki, of the David Suzuki Foundation.  David shares how he thinks first nations and local engagement can help us through this challenging bottleneck in which we are witness to the collapse of ecosystems all around us.  David also shares how he is personally coping with the unraveling. 

Nate Hagens downloads his worldview about the Great Simplification with Leila Conners through seven discussions. The conversation covers the Carbon Pulse, the Human Predicament, the Myths that govern us as well as What We Can Do among other pressing topics. This series of seven conversations navigates between fantasy and doom and is a species-level conversation that can help frame a future pathway.


Northern Ireland is targeted by a Canadian mining firm that is planning the largest gold mine in Europe.  The mine is located in the green Sperrin Mountains, a place where Irish was last spoken. The threat of a mine and the poisoning of the waters that such a mine can bring, has galvanized this community beyond just a protest movement, as James Orr describes, it is helping people look to their roles as protectors and stewards of the land as well as participants in our wider human community.  From a discussion with Leila Conners, the first in a series on this mine and the people it is impacting.

Davon continues his series with Geoff Edwards, co-founder of Saturday Morning, about their experiences as black men in American culture. Saturday Morning creates ideas that bring awareness to and shift perceptions on racial bias and injustice.


Alnoor Ladha, who once led The Rules, discusses how we move from the old, destructive economy and assumptions, to the new economy with new rules and regenerative ideas.

Tree Media and The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy have teamed up to follow events in the Middle East as told by stakeholders and leaders from the region.  Our first subject concerns water, access to water and the prevention of a potential water conflict over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam ( GERD ). The series includes: Egypt with Mirette Mabrouk, Senior Fellow and Director of the Egypt Program, Middle East Institute; Sudan with Adil Abdel Aati, Leader, Liberal Party of Sudan; and Ethiopia with Filagot Tesfaye, President of the Ethiopian Women in Energy Association and Managing Director of On Energy Consult; John Mukum Mbaku, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Timothy Kaldas, Policy Fellow, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP); Steven Cook, Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); and Dr. Mohmed Rami Mahmoud, of the National Water Research Center, Egypt.


Mari Margil, of the Center for Democracy and Environmental Rights (CDER), discusses how the rights of natures has evolved, from the first law implemented in 2008 to laws implemented in constitutions and state frameworks covering updates from Ecuador, Switzerland, India and the United States.  She also reveals what it means to be "rights bearing" and how "legal naturehood" is probably a better framework. 

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