#8. Cultivating mindfulness and presence: How humanity can enhance its capacity to do good


In our eighth episode of The Last Stand Podcast, we have a thought-provoking discussion with Tim Desmond about the importance of mindfulness, presence, and mental resilience when confronting the immense and varied challenges that currently face humanity. Tim Desmond is a psychotherapist, author, and Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Antioch University New England. He is also a student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the co-founder of Morning Sun Mindfulness Center, which teaches mindfulness and self-compassion practices to professional and popular audiences around the world.

During our excellent conversation with Tim, we discuss how enhancing mindfulness and presence is essential to improving our ability to be effective and positive change makers in our communities. Tim also makes the case for why mindfulness is a quintessential component to boosting the effectiveness and stamina that fuels social movements. Additionally, Tim explains how he utilizes these practices and teachings in both his personal and professional life, and details how his mindfulness training was deployed during the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City. Lastly, we discuss how mindfulness should be integrated into current social movements, such as Black Lives Matter, learn about the value of embracing life’s suffering while cultivating joy, and explore the emerging affliction of “toxic righteousness”.

FollowTim Desmond through his website  and Twitter.

Show Notes:  

  • 8:30 – Discussion of Tim’s next book, Staying Human in a F*cked Up World 
  • 16:00 – “Resilience is a skill that you can develop through practice…”
  • 20:15 – Toxic Righteousness – “The anger fueled self certainty that pervades so much of our political discourse…”
  • 23:00 – Both despair and toxic righteousness are made out of compassion, and can only exist because we recognize suffering and it affects us
  • 26:00 – There are two sides to the practice of mindfulness: 1) learning to embrace and transform suffering and 2) learning how to cultivate joy
  • 34:00 – How to deploy the art of mindfulness on the front lines of social movements
  • 45:45 – The importance of cultivating presence, and using mindfulness and compassion training to address humanity’s greatest challenges
  • 50:00 – “…helping good-hearted people be more effective in their actions.”
  • 53:00 – Additional resources

Additional Resources:

#7. The ethical implications of CRISPR and the democratization of gene editing technologies

On our latest episode, we speak with Samuel Sternberg, PhD, about the continued evolution of CRISPR research. Our discussion focused on how scientists and the public must grapple with the ethical implications of increasingly accurate and less costly gene editing technologies. Dr. Sternberg is a world-renowned protein-RNA and CRISPR expert, and in early 2018, he will be starting his own CRISPR-centered research laboratory in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University. Dr. Sternberg is also the co-author of A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution, a book which profiles the discovery, development, and applications of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology.

During our conversation, Dr. Sternberg provides us with a primer on CRISPR, which he refers to as the “find and replace” function for human DNA. Dr. Sternberg also offers a nuanced understanding of the technology’s practical limitations, while placing into context the longterm challenges CRISPR may present to humanity. Dr. Sternberg also stresses the need for increased debate around the issue of access, as these gene editing technologies could, in time, propagate inequality if changes are only performed and inherited by select groups or populations. Lastly, we discuss the most cutting edge applications of CRISPR around the world, including the use of CRISPR to resurrect the Wooly Mammoth and the deployment of gene drives that spread malaria resistance in wild mosquito populations.

Follow Dr. Samuel Sternberg through his website, Twitter and LinkedIn

Dr. Sternberg’s book, A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution, can be found on Amazon

Show Notes:  

  • 6:45 – A primer on CRISPR, “the find and replace function” for the human genome, and its potential applications
  • 9:00 – “Highjacking” a natural process for the purpose of gene editing
  • 10:30 – CRISPR as the “Model T” of gene editing technology
  • 17:45 – Limiting “off target effects” and building better, safer, and more accurate versions CRISPR
  • 20:00 – The challenge and longterm impact of “germline editing”
  • 23:15 – A new phase in human evolution: Grappling with “the power to not only sequence our DNA, but change our DNA”
  • 24:30 – Scientists and their role in understanding and educating the public on the ethical implications of their work
  • 25:45 – Understanding the limitations and real-world applications of CRISPR technology – this is not the Gattaca
  • 29:00 – The issue of access in the case of using CRISPR in human reproduction
  • 31:30 – “How inequalities could propagate when we are talking about making changes that could be inherited by future generations”
  • 34:00 – The responsibility of scientists to think about the downstream implications of their research
  • 35:30 – The need for regulatory harmonization and uniformity around germline editing in order to avoid medical tourism and other consequences that stem from patchwork different regulations
  • 39:15 – Additional resources
  • 43:30 – Using CRISPR to resurrect the Wooly Mammoth and deploying gene drives to spread malaria resistance in wild mosquito populations


Continue reading “#7. The ethical implications of CRISPR and the democratization of gene editing technologies”

#6. Building a global alliance for sustainable seafood and Whole Foods’ lionfish fillet

In this episode, we refocus on the importance of our marine ecosystems, and explore the global need for a more sustainable commercial fishing industry with Ana Chang. Ana is the International Liason at the Tokyo-based firm Seafood Legacy. In this role, she advocates for a more robust sustainable seafood industry by working with stakeholders to shape global fishery markets and regulations.

We discuss with Ana the destructive impact out-of-sight and out-of-mind commercial fishing operations can have on sea life, workers, and the local community. We also dissect key ways in which businesses and governments can begin to advocate for and adopt more responsible seafood standards. Additionally, we discuss how businesses are promoting sustainable seafood options, including Whole Foods’ recent campaign to bring the invasive lionfish to the plates of its loyal customer base.

Follow Ana Chang  on LinkedIn.

Follow Seafood Legacy on Facebook and Twitter.

Show Notes:  

  • 7:00 – The Homeward Bound program and elevating women leadership in scientific policy and decision making
  • 12:30 – Our “high trophic” diet and the invisible impacts of the commercial fishing industry
  • 14:45 – Depleting seafood resources and “dipping into our principle”
  • 17:30 – Raising awareness and promoting sustainable fishing practices in Japan
  • 18:45 – Why inland fish farming and aquaculture is only part of the solution
  • 22:45 – Seafood Legacy and the global alliance creating long term and lasting impact on our waters
  • 25:15 – Using Human Centered Design to promote ocean conservation in Japan
  • 28:30 – The U.S.’s expanding seafood palette and finding sustainable seafood in the Midwest
  • 32:15 – Tracking slavery within commercial shrimping industry
  • 34:00 – How to spot sustainable seafood while shopping
  • 34:50 – Private sector leadership and Whole Foods’ lionfish removal program
  • 38:00 – Finding sustainable seafood on the menu
  • 39:00 – What is the government’s role in promoting a more responsible and sustainable seafood industry
  • 42:00 – Additional Resources (below)

Continue reading “#6. Building a global alliance for sustainable seafood and Whole Foods’ lionfish fillet”

#5. Jon Snow’s collective action problem and applying behavioral economics to Game of Thrones

In our latest episode, we chat with Erik Johnson about how behavioral economics governs decision making in Game of Thrones. Erik is the Marketing Optimization Manager in the Behavioral Insights Team at Morningstar, and is a co-host of the Action Design Radio podcast.

During our discussion, Erik provides us with an excellent behavioral economics primer and explains how our biological wiring can impact our ability to confront distant and abstract threats such as climate change.

Erik also offers Jon Snow free advice on how to overcome Westeros’ collective action problem, and we debate whether Dorne is the Ibiza of the Game of Thrones universe. Lastly, we put forth our best predictions on who will rule the Iron Throne at the conclusion of next season.

Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Follow Morningstar’s Behaviorial Insight Team 

Continue reading “#5. Jon Snow’s collective action problem and applying behavioral economics to Game of Thrones”

#4. Combating income and wealth inequality, and strengthening our democracy with Joelle Gamble

During our latest episode, we dissect the roots and impacts of income and wealth inequality in the U.S. with Joelle Gamble. Joelle is a masters of public affairs candidate at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs, and recently served as the National Director of the Roosevelt Institute’s network. 

Joelle provides a foundation for understanding the significant levels of income and wealth inequality present throughout the U.S. economy. We also discuss the increasing “financialization” of the U.S. economy and explore whether unabated income and wealth inequality can result in the destabilization of our democracy.

Follow Joelle Gamble on Twitter, LinkedIn, or at www.joellegamble.com.

Continue reading “#4. Combating income and wealth inequality, and strengthening our democracy with Joelle Gamble”

#3. The challenge of automation and the case for a universal basic income with Taylor Jo Isenberg

In the latest episode of The Last Stand Podcast, we discuss the looming challenge of automation and the case for a universal basic income with Taylor Jo Isenberg, managing director of the Economic Security Project.

Co-chaired by Natalie Foster, Dorian Warren, and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, the Economic Security Project is a two year fund that will support exploration and experimentation with unconditional cash stipends.

During our interview with Taylor, we explore the future of work and discuss the components of universal basic income and other cash stipend programs. We also examine the need for a more nuanced discussion about the potential impacts of automation on our nation’s workforce and economy.

Follow Taylor Jo  on Twitter and LinkedIn

Follow the Economic Security Project on Twitter, Medium, and Facebook

#2. Restoring the planet’s damaged and dying coral reef ecosystems with Sam Teicher

In our most recent episode of The Last Stand Podcast, we discuss the importance, uniqueness and threats to coral reef ecosystems with Sam Teicher, co-founder of Coral Vita.

Founded in 2014, Coral Vita’s mission is to restore the planets damaged and dying coral reef environments by growing more resilient coral and transplanting them into threatened reef systems.

During our conversation, Sam outlines Coral Vita’s commitment to not only preserve these incredible and diverse organisms, but also to safeguard the prosperity and security of the over half a billion people who currently rely on coral reef systems for food, coastal protection, and income.

Follow Sam Teicher on Twitter and LinkedIn

Follow Coral Vita on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook

Continue reading “#2. Restoring the planet’s damaged and dying coral reef ecosystems with Sam Teicher”