Social Distance Podcast

When I'm struggling with minor upsets like the global pandemic and social distance, I talk to people. Then I feel better. Hopefully you will too.

About the show

I've been struggling a bit the past few weeks with thon oul' global pandemic. So I decided to make a new podcast. Because talking and listening generally helps. Over the next who-knows-how-many-weeks I'm asking fellow travelers how they're coping with the strangeness, and we go from there.

Episodes

  • Episode 28: Lisa Phillips in Phoenix, Arizona, USA (3)

    July 13th, 2020  |  44 mins 5 secs

    My third conversation with Lisa. Her mom, Rene, was hospitalized with Covid symptoms on June 24th, and intubated by June 30th. Lisa spoke with me on Sunday, July 12th, at 0830 Melbourne time.

  • Episode 27: Lisa Phillips in Phoenix, Arizona, USA (2)

    July 6th, 2020  |  45 mins 5 secs

    When I first spoke with Lisa on 16th of June 2020, the State of Arizona had recorded 39,097 cases of Covid-19 in total and 1,219 deaths. When we caught up again on July 5th 2020 those numbers were 98,103 cases and 1,825 deaths. Lisa's mother is one of those cases, and at the time of recording was on a ventilator in an intensive care Covid ward in Phoenix.

  • Episode 26: Kevin McManus in San Antonio, Texas

    June 28th, 2020  |  45 mins 34 secs

    Kevin McManus is a public defender in the city of San Antonio, Texas. We spoke on Friday 26th June 2020, at which point the USA had 2,452.567 confirmed cases of Covid and 122,550 confirmed deaths. We talk summer in San Antonio, local and national responses to Covid, Ireland, activism and the growing spike in cases in TX. At the time of writing - Saturday 28th - the US has 2,469,441 confirmed cases.

  • Episode 25: Lisa Phillips in Phoenix, Arizona, USA

    June 17th, 2020  |  47 mins 47 secs

    On 16th of June, the State of Arizona reported 2,392 new cases of Covid-19. The day before, 1014. To date there have been 39,097 cases in total, and 1,219 deaths. Lisa Phillips talks to me about trying to stay sane and safe in a state where many people resolutely refuse to take Covid-19 as a serious personal threat. We talk about home working, crazy conspiracy theories and Covid-Karaoke. Which is actually just Karaoke, but ignoring the Covid bit.

  • Episode 24: Chris Dolan in Glasgow (3)

    June 4th, 2020  |  35 mins 50 secs
    chris dolan podcast, coronavirus scotland, covid-19, covid-19 scotland, dominic cummings, scotland

    UK deaths from Covid-19; Dominic Cummings and UK government hypocrisy; writing under lockdown and Spain's emergence from lockdown. And trying to understand people you don't understand. Glasgow writer Chris Dolan.

  • Episode 23: Sarah Stuteville in Seattle

    June 2nd, 2020  |  39 mins 16 secs

    A conversation about systemic racism in the USA, police violence against protestors in Seattle and the fucked up nature of the mayoral response to the protests. Sarah is a journalist and educator in Seattle.

    Her article 'Disaster Progressivism' is here:

    https://southseattleemerald.com/2020/05/21/disaster-progressivism-having-the-guts-to-imagine-more/

  • Episode 22: Simon Colgan in Calgary

    May 29th, 2020  |  50 mins 1 sec
    campp, campp calgary, end of life care, homeless, homeless calgary, homeless canada, irish diaspora, irish doctor, irish in canada, northern ireland, palliative care, palliative care for homeless, simon colgan, the troubles

    "...like when I drive by in the car and I'm seeing some guy lying in the street I'm like, 'That's a human being. Lying on the street...' That to me is just deep, deep injustice...The most marginalized, the most traumatized, and yeah you know what? You, can lie in the street too."

    Urban homelessness can seem like an insoluble problem. But if the urgency of the Covid-19 response is teaching us anything, it's that where there's a will there can be a way. Simon Colgan's a doctor in Calgary in Canada, where he founded CAMPP, an agency to provide palliative care for people who are homeless or in vulnerable housing situations. Amongst other things, he says, if a pandemic can lead to a city finding accommodation for homeless people in very short order, why can't it happen in 'normal' circumstances? He talks about the privilege of working in palliative care; the regrettable need to evaluate health services in terms of value for money; the deserving and undeserving poor and how his upbringing in Northern Ireland contributes to his sense of social justice.

  • Episode 21: Sunday Essa in Abuja

    May 26th, 2020  |  20 mins 12 secs
    coronavirus, covid abuja, covid nigeria, sunday essa

    Sunday Essa was working as a receptionist in a small hotel in Abuja, Nigeria, when the lockdown there came into effect on March 30th. Since then he hasn't been able to work. A phased easing came into effect on May 4th, but Sunday is one of many who are still unable to even look for work until the next stage of the process. We spoke on Wednesday 20th May 2020.

  • Episode 20: Aminat Chokobaeva in Bishkek

    May 22nd, 2020  |  21 mins 25 secs
    aminat chokobaeva, bishkek, coronavirus, covid-19, kyrgyzstan

    Until March of this year, Aminat Chokobaeva was based in Kazakhstan, where she's an academic at Nazarayev University. She returned to her home city of Bishkek in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan in March this year as her grandmother was gravely ill. Aminat is still there, weeks after her grandmother died. She shares her experiences of losing a loved one and planning a funeral in lockdown times, and the prospect of teaching online for the foreseeable future. And we also touch on the fascinating nature of Aminat's grandmother's work - she was an administrator during the years of Soviet rule and the early years of independence.

    This conversation was recorded on Monday 18th May 2020.

  • Episode 19: Tom Hawking in Melbourne

    May 14th, 2020  |  24 mins 2 secs
    australia, centrelink, coronavirus, covid-19, dole bludger, jobseeker, tom hawking

    What happens when a system that's designed to be cruel to the 'undeserving' poor suddenly has to be used to help the 'deserving' poor as well?

    In March 2020 freelance writer Tom Hawking wrote in the Guardian Australia about his encounter with Centrelink, the Australian government's agency responsible for administering welfare payments.

    Tom's piece touches on sticky questions like (and I'm paraphrasing here) "What becomes of the treasured myth of the dole bludger if we're all on the dole?" So I gave him a ring and we had a chat - about how each Australian government tries to outdo its predecessor with a 'tough-on-benefits-claimants' stance, and about working as a freelance writer when nobody's commissioning pieces.

    Tom Hawking's piece for Guardian Australia is here:
    'The Australian welfare system has always been needlessly cruel. Now it's punishing half the country.'
    https://bit.ly/2Wu1W8z

    And you can find more of his work here:
    https://www.tomhawking.com/

  • Episode 18: Chris Dolan in Glasgow (2)

    May 12th, 2020  |  29 mins 53 secs
    boris johnson, chris dolan, coronavirus, covid-19, glasgow, lockdown, nicole sturgeon, scotland, scotland covid-19, social distance

    What happens when you have one state containing four countries and one of them starts to relax lockdown rules before the other three, even as infection rates continue rising? Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are about to find out. The UK government led by Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on May 10th that restrictions would begin to ease, kind of, but kind of not. Well, maybe.

    Confused? You're not alone. From Scotland, writer Chris Dolan gives me his perspective on the Scottish response to the muddled message emerging from Westminster, as well as his personal thoughts on how we might shape the future world into which we're now headed.

  • Episode 17: Colette Cunningham in Cork

    May 11th, 2020  |  29 mins 57 secs
    collette cuningham, contact tracing, coronavirus, covid-19, ireland, social distance, ucc, ucc public health

    'Contact tracing.' It's just one of the terms that's become part of our everyday vocabulary in the past few months (like coronavirus and social distancing and flattening the curve.) But what does it mean? How does it actually work?
    'It's a bit like being an investigator,' Colette Cunningham tells me in this conversation. She is a lecturer in the school of public health at University College Cork, in Ireland. She’s worked in public health for many years in many different countries, so she brings - if I'm being honest - an awesome range of experience to her work during Covid-19 crisis in Ireland.

  • Episode 16: Stacey Zammit in Montreal

    May 7th, 2020  |  25 mins 19 secs
    coronavirus, covid-19, informal settlements, land portal, land rights, land tenure, montreal, quebec, stacey zammit

    Montreal in Quebec has been especially hard hit by Covid-19. Stacey Zammit joins me to reflect on the uncertainty facing the city as the spring arrives. She also talks about her work with Land Portal. Land Portal's website describes its purpose pretty concisely: 'Securing Land Rights Through Open Data.' So we touch on the unfolding impacts of Covid-19 on vulnerable populations worldwide, particularly those many of whom are dependent on casual labour and live in informal settlements.

    You can find Land Portal's work here:
    https://landportal.org/

  • Episode 15: Malathi de Alwis in Colombo

    May 7th, 2020  |  45 mins 6 secs
    archive of memory, colombo, coronavirus, covid-19, curfew, disappearance, malathi de alwis, migrant workers, singapore, sri lanka

    This is a fascinating conversation. At the time of writing (7th May 2020) Sri Lanka has officially recorded nine deaths from Covid-19, which is a very small proportion of the population. Malathi de Alwis is a socio-cultural anthropologist based in Colombo. She joined me to offer some context for the government's handling of the pandemic and the idea of curfew; the impact of migrant workers from Sri Lanka returning home; and the racialisation of victims of Covid-19. And we chat about Malathi's research into disappearance, the uses of maternalism in political protest, and the importance of remembering. All of which offer a deeper context for what's happening today.

    We spoke on 6th May 2020.

  • Episode 14: Amanda Hargreaves, still in Rome

    May 5th, 2020  |  36 mins 36 secs
    amanda hargreaves, coronavirus, covid-19, italia, italy, lockdown, rome, scots abroad, springtime in rome

    It's the first day of post-lockdown life in Italy. I say post-lockdown life, but partial post-lockdown life is probably a more accurate description. Travel within your own region is allowed, as are visits to relatives provided you wear a mask. Radio producer and translator Amanda Hargreaves takes me on a walk to the fruit shop to get oranges in warm sunshine and we chat about lockdown haircuts, traffic jams and what the future might or might not look like.

  • Episode 13: A Journalist in Bejing, China

    May 1st, 2020  |  18 mins 14 secs

    A chat with a news editor based in Bejing. Touching on the nature of the city to an outsider, competing narratives about the origins of COVID-19 and the challenge of getting reliable information in a tightly controlled society.