How To Be Hopeful Episode 30- “2020 U.S Election”

This week, on the eve of the 2020 U.S elections, I catch up with the wonderful Nafessa Monroe, actor, poet, writer. Nafeesa speaks about the global  interest in the results of the election “it gives me hope that there are people all over the world just as concerned about the state of the U.S as Americans are”

Nafeesa speaks about her journey and experiences as a young actor of mixed heritage in L.A, with all the challenges and opportunities which came her way. She tells the story of Olympia Dukakis asking her “why aren’t you living in new York? If you need help, I'll help you;” after they did a play together and her subsequent move to New York and career as a theatre actor. We speak about the power of diverse casting on storytelling, and her own company “Classics in Colour” which was “founded on inclusion”

We talk also about the importance of thanking and remembering our ancestors, about art and activism, and about the hope found in the beautiful art, craft and philosophy of Japanese kintsugi.

Lastly, we discuss the previous election,  the Trump presidency and the despair and hope Nafeesa experienced as a result . She says “ I remember vividly the loss of hope, and the disbelief that this was even possible in our world” and how it is this time around on the eve of the 2020 election 

“I’m just as scared, I have all the fear. I know I have done what I have the power to do, which is to vote, and in the next four years I have to do more with the power I have… to activate my arts… to show up and listen.., no matter what there is a lot of work to be done…. so how do we move forward together now?”

We finish on discussing a utopian America, and Nafeesa advises to start moving in this direction by choosing or seeking healing in some way.

You can contact Nafeesa here:

Things we referenced and spoke about can be found here:

Wonderful project about people with seemingly irreconcilable differences talking and listening. https://wearenotdivided.reasonstobecheerful.world

The Green Book trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkZxoko_HC0

Southern law poverty centre (identifying hate groups in U.S)  https://www.splcenter.org

My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathways to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies is by Resmaa Menakem

Info about Kintsugi can be found here 

My book How To Be Hopeful is out NOW! and can be found in all the usual places

More soon!

Love Bernadette x



How To Be Hopeful Episode 29 “Back & Fill- a festival of hope”

I had the treat of speaking with poet, artist and wonderful troublemaker Dan Thompson this week, as he launches his Back & Fill festival: a fantastically ambitious social distance complying yet Covid-defying carnival of creativity in 12 seaside towns from Portrush in Northern Ireland to Westward Ho! in Devon. We chat about Dan's work being about hope and  "giving people the power to do things themselves" and how if you are an artist and/or an activist then you can't "separate it from the rest of your life... ". We speak about an Ian M Banks inspired post-scarcity utopian future "we need to get beyond money and work"  and how we can start to move towards that rosy future "start bartering, start swapping, start giving things away" 

We end with a beautiful prayer by Cardinal Newman, and by chatting about the similarities between him and one of my personal heroes, Mr Motivator. 

You can find out more about all of Dan's wonderful and hopeful work here

This podcast is to accompany my book of the same name, published by Elliott and Thompson, available from your local independent bookshop and here 

To find out more about me, please go here 

Thanks so much for listening- more soon! 

How To Be Hopeful Episode 28: “A Canopy of Hope”

This week I had the pleasure of chatting with Jess Massucco, who manages Trees for Cities  London community outreach and volunteer programme for Urban Forests. Which means Jess gets a lot of Londoners planting a lot of trees! 

Jess spoke about her journey from University to her current post, and all her amazing experiences along the way including growing food with young offenders. 

Hear all about Trees for Cities Edible Playground Projects, and Urban Forest planting plans which "encourage people to access nature... and can be the first step towards environmental action"

Jess speaks about the fact that although Trees for Cities have planted an impressive million plus trees, it is the tree canopy that is really important: " providing a habitat, food and shelter for wildlife... beauty and a sense of place, shelter and cooling and cleaning air.... they prevent flooding and are used in a cool, technical, engineering way, as well as in a warm, symbolic emotional way" and how as an organisation they combine environmental action and social change, inviting action which is good for people and planet. 

Jess gives great tips for getting involved with supporting your local trees, and the importance that we face facts "we are investing time, energy and hope into green infrastructure programmes... we are aware of what we are battling but being honest and truthful leads to hope... we say... its not looking good but there is room to be hopeful"

Jess and I discuss the importance of justice, balance and equal opportunity so that "everything has the chance to thrive" and how she is influenced and inspired by the Black Lives Matters movement.

To get involved with Trees for Cities please go here

Jess also recommended 

Conservation Volunteers, to find out more go here

RSPB, go here

and Wildlife Trust, go here 

and for my local lovely park group Deptford Folk go here


My book "How To Be Hopeful" is out now and is available from all the usual places, including many lovely independents such as Whitstable's newly opened Harbour Books. You can visit them here 

Thanks for listening- more soon


Love Bernadette 

How To Be Hopeful Episode 27 “We Are Meant To Be Telling Each Other Stories”

Such a treat this week to speak with Melody Brown, actor, horse rider and one third of Wondermare along with C. Amanda Maud and Daniel York " a semi-acoustic trio of middle-aged hapa actors... playing quirky folk-rock originals and eccentric covers." 

Mel and I covered so much! We began with her love of Hastings and the hope found in the kindness there, the pleasure to be enjoyed in being kind yourself. 

We moved on to her career as an actor and the how live performance can increase empathy, and help us to understand "the complexity of what it is to be human". She speaks about her recent experience as part of the diverse cast at the RSC, full of people of "all cultures, races, colours, disabilities" and the importance and hope of that diversity. 

Mel speaks about her experience as a bipolar person in a mental health system which is full of "talented people ... who want to do their best but are let down by this government' and how we need "money money money" for the NHS mental health services.

She speaks beautifully about the healing power of her relationship with Miranda the horse " you can't think about the future,  you can't think about the past, when you are with your horse, you are one entity, and it is the most "now" I have ever been"

Mel gives great insight into how we can best help each other at times of mental health crisis " you don't need someone to solve it, you need someone to say that really sucks and I'm sorry.. to listen and not judge"

Mel recommended a book called Fully Automated Luxury Communism by Aaron Batini  as a blueprint to a possible utopia, you can find it at Hastings independent bookshop here 

We didn't get to chat about the band! But you can listen to the mighty Wondermare here

My book "How To Be Hopeful" is out now and is available from all the usual places, including many lovely independents such as Whitstable's newly opened Harbour Books. You can visit them here 

Thanks for listening- more soon


Love Bernadette 

How To Be Hopeful Episode 26 “Hope and Kindness”

This week it was a treat for me to speak with my friend Debbi Marco, author, freelance journalist and fellow champion of kindness. Debbi gives  great advice on how to succeed in a tough industry "be the helpful and the kind person... it helps get you remembered" We talk about how important it is to actively choose the news we consume, rather than just scrolling though our social media feeds "don't take one news source... especially if it is just telling you what you want to hear". Debbi talks about how and where she has found hope recently in helping refugees and witnessing the kindness of so many people. This was something she wrote about beautifully in her new book "The Power of Kindness" an international collection of stories of kindness that happened during lockdown. We spoke about utopia and Deb's hopes for the future too, in which she imagined a future in which kindness was normal, harnessing  the power to change the world for better, for good.

You can buy Debbi's book here , you can also find her on twitter @debbimarco or via her website here 

My book "How To Be Hopeful" is also OUT now! Packed full of hopeful stories, ideas, case studies and things to try, I'm happy to say it is getting lovely reviews already! You can buy it here  


or in your local independent bookshop

'The perfect book for troubling times. The ideas and exercises in How To Be Hopeful will soothe your soul.' Katherine May, author of Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

More stories and chats about hope coming soon

Love Bernadette xxx

How To Be Hopeful Episode 25 “Comedy, cows and cancer”

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with cheeky faced comedian Stevie Gray, AKA "Oldham Guitar Pirate", about his recent gigs in a field in Derbyshire where "the cows were heckling us", how comedy is vital for our positive mental heath, and how lessons learned from a bad gig can help you develop resilience and strength. Stevie tells a story about a gig in Bolton Golf Club which didn't go as well as usual. The organisers told him afterwards "you were by far the worst comedian we've booked in 30 years" and yet he picked himself up (a similar thing, after all, happened to Eddie Izzard among any others, so Stevie knew he was in good company!) He remembered that other people were still booking him, and loving his act, so he got back on stage with hope in his heart and carried on. This amazing strength and humility must have helped him recently when he had a terrifying cancer scare, and in the midst of waiting to hear his test results, whilst still at the hospital, not knowing whether he was about to find out he had a terminal illness, he  made an incredible decision: he immediately set up a Just Giving page pledging to donate all his comedy earnings until 2021 to Cancer Research UK. Stevie hoped to raise £500 "but before I'd even got home from the hospital I'd raised £600!..I was humbled at our generous people are... how kind people are" 

I'm delighted to say that Stevie has received the all clear in the last couple of days but continues to raise funds for Cancer Research UK

If you'd like to donate please visit here

If you'd like to see one of Stevie's fab songs please go here:  

My book "How To Be Hopeful" is OUT now! Packed full of hopeful stories, ideas, case studies and things to try, I'm happy to say it is getting lovely reviews already! You can buy it here  


or in your local independent bookshop

'The perfect book for troubling times. The ideas and exercises in How To Be Hopeful will soothe your soul.' Katherine May, author of Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times


More soon! 

Love Bernadette xx

How To Be Hopeful Episode 24: “Hope and the Young Voices of The Rebellion “

This week I speak with teen activists Sera Aksoy and Neal Brink, who I met on Parliament Square at the beginning of their year's Extinction Rebellion protests. I witnessed them being shouted at by a middle aged man with a camera person in tow," he chose us because we were the most vulnerable people there... it was upsetting because it is our future" After checking they were ok,  we got talking about why they were there, where they find hope and what they want us adults to do to help them. 

At the end of a week during which young people were being used as scapegoats for the rise in COVID cases, it felt really important to me to listen to young people's hopes and dreams for the future, and what they think we  should do to help them make positive change in the world. We talk abut the power of social media (for good and bad), about how empowering being part of a protest has been for them  " we were all together, fighting for the same cause.... it gave me so much hope... what made us angry and what made us hopeful was the climate crisis" 

I ask them why they choose to be part of the protests " I feel a sense of solidarity with people living in the global south, they're the ones who are going to be the ones hit hardest with climate change... I am standing here for everyone on this planet regardless of whether I know them or not"

They speak about the corrupting nature of a global capitalist system, of the staggering wealth of some individuals who could  end world hunger "but every day chose not to" and of the necessity to redistribute wealth to end inequality around the world. 

Neal and Sera suggest simple, doable and effective ways we could adjust our lives to make a real difference, and Sera added " I am completely begging adults out there... please do look at who you are voting for because it makes such a huge difference" 

They speak abut their involvement in the recent  A level results protests and how the clear change that came about following those protest inspired them to continue their activism. "We saw injustice, and thats something to point out, at all times, no matter if it affects us or not, we have to do something" 

Listening to these amazing young people talk abut their ideas of a future utopia is inspiring and humbling. Let's support and help them! 

Find out more about Extinction Rebellion Youth here:  

Find out more about Fridays For Future here  

My book How To Be Hopeful is out now! You can buy it here and here or in your local independent bookshop, with lots of stories, science, case studies and practical exercises. Find me at www. bernadetterussell.com

twitter: @betterussell

instagram: @bernadetterussell




How To Be Hopeful Episode 23 “Theatre of Hope”

This week I speak with Kas Darley and Mark Stevenson, co- directors of theatre company Theatre Vivo. Theatre is one of the industries which has been extremely challenged  as a result of COVID, and I wanted to speak with them about how they have stayed hopeful in the midst of that . Kas and Mark speak about how they adapted during lockdown , including hosting zoom workshops for actors during lockdown to "give people hope and a chance to play". They speak about how they have been encouraged by " a generosity of spirt going on in the cultural world" with people helping and supporting each other. Teatro Vivo creates "immersive, playful work that engages the audience" - in Hight Streets, supermarkets, parks etc.  by making  theatre everywhere they discovered that "everything is extraordinary and there is magic to be found everywhere". Another of their projects "Grimms Collecting Agency" involves collecting stories from members of the public : "people need to be heard... every story is about how humans do amazing things... hearing peoples stories help us understand each other and make communities better" . We also discuss their latest show on Zoom "The House That Slipped" a time travelling adventure in which a kind of utopia is discovered and the audience are invited discovered what they hope for the future and how we get there. We talked about what they had discovered as a result of story collecting and speaking with people about their hopes during lock down: "people are looking out for each other and being more community focused- they might feel powerless abut the big things but they can affect their street...you need people to do the little stuff... to be part of that ecosystem of fight and change"

You can find out more about Teatro Vivo here: https://www.teatrovivo.co.uk 

My book "How To Be Hopeful" is out now! 

You can buy it here

or here 

or best of all at your local independent bookshop! 

More soon



How To Be Hopeful episode 22 “No one is too small to make difference”

This week I chat with 12 year old climate activist Thierry Spall, who became an environmental campaigner when he was only 8, after watching David Attenborough programmes abut the devastating effects and realising "it was real and I had to do something". I chatted with Thierry abut his campaigns at school, his fundraising and his involvement in Extinction Rebellion, at the beginning of their 2020 October Rebellion- a series of actions and protests to highlight the climate and ecological emergency. He spoke about how "everyones voice does count and should be listened to"  but that "I don't think we should bring the full burden down of everything onto people who are still young" We met on Tuesday 1st September at Parliament Square, when Thierry and lots of other children and young people were delivering their letters of concern and demands to the British Government. Thierry's commitment to positive change at such a young age gave me such huge hope for the future, and listening to him is a timely reminder of our responsibilities to ensure all young people and the planet get the future they deserve. Thierry is currently making his own wildlife documentary "Doorstep Nature" encouraging people to find and observe nature close to home. His advice to us grown ups? "listen more to nature.... notice if what we are doing has a drastic effect or a positive impact on the environment... and change"

You can find out more about Extinction Rebellion here: https://extinctionrebellion.uk 

My book "How To Be Hopeful" is out this Thursday 10th September! 

You can pre - order it
or find it in your local independent bookshop
More soon and I hope you have a great week!
Love Bernadette 



How To Be Hopeful Episode 21 “Labours of Love”

This week I chat with the fantastic Gaylene Gould, cultural ambassador for London, creative director, presenter, cultural critic, interview host and writer. We chat about many things, including how hope and despair can and do exist alongside each other, how important it is for us all to accept "we are flawed... we will always be doing stupid stuff and we will always be doing amazing stuff"  and how we must "have love for the fact that we are idiots, truly embracing the dark AND the light in us" ... which can then unlock "a deep well of hope"

We chat about Gaylene's journey as an artist  "a black girl from a council estate who didn't leave school with much"-  her time at the BFI as head of programming, her love of curiosity "the only thing we should guided by" and her passion for London.

In response to Black Lives Matter, Gaylene with friends and collaborators, began a project called Labours of Love- highlighting and championing black racial justice organisations in the UK, because, as she says "I wanted to give and I wanted to know who to give to."

We conclude by discussing utopia, and Gaylene's hopes for a future whose "chief rate of exchange would be love"

To find out more about Gaylene's work go here

More soon!

Love Bernadette

My book "How To Be Hopeful" published by Elliot and Thompson is  out 10th September 2020. This podcast series is a chance for me to chat again to some of the people who I interviewed for the book, as well as some people who I didn't have the chance to. I hope you enjoy it. 

You can find me here www.bernadetterussell.com

twitter @betterussell insta @bernadetterussell 

facebook https://www.facebook.com/bernadetterussellwrites/ 




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