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.


  • Episode 12: Lars Stegelmann in Berlin, Germany

    April 30th, 2020  |  32 mins 29 secs
    berlin, coronavirus, coronavirus germany, covid-19, covid-19 germany, lars stegelmann, supply chain disruption

    Lars Stegelmann is an engineer and a friend who I met first en route to a wedding in northern California in 2008. I picked him up in San Francisco and we drove up the coast, and I have this vivid memory of him, late on the night of the wedding, dancing with a floor brush. Anyway, after a long spell living near Kingston, Ontario, he returned to Germany in the summer of 2019. We spoke on Thursday 28th of April 2020, about supply chains (Lars works in global operations for Bombardier, the aircraft and rail manufacturer), paradigm shifts (yes, I really did use that phrase) home working and home schooling.

  • Episode 11: Simon Peter Mwesigye in Kampala, Uganda

    April 28th, 2020  |  22 mins 57 secs
    coronavirus, coronavirus kampala, coronavirus uganda, covid-19, covid-19 kampala, kampala, simon peter mwesigye, uganda, un habitat

    Maintaining good sanitation in a city that's partially underwater is a huge challenge. Simon Peter Mwesigye lives and works in Kampala, Uganda, where the level of Lake Victoria is the highest it's been in decades. He talked to me about the difficulties that poses for people living in low lying areas, often in informal settlements. Recorded on Thursday 23rd of April at 2200 Melbourne time.

  • Episode 10: Everlyne Nairesiae in Nairobi, Kenya

    April 24th, 2020  |  18 mins 47 secs
    coronavirus, coronavirus kenya, covid-19, covid-19 kenya, covid-19 nairobi, everlyne nairesiae, kenya

    Everlyne Nairesiae is a Kenyan, working for UN-Habitat in Nairobi. She is a land tenure and gender specialist, and talks to me about the challenges faced by vulnerable communities in both rural and urban settings as a result of COVID-19. Recorded on Wednesday 22nd of April 2020 at 2030 Melbourne time.

  • Episode 9: Ali Igmen in Long Beach, California

    April 21st, 2020  |  38 mins 55 secs
    ali igmen, california state university long beach, coronavirus, covid-19, kyrgyz theater, kyrgyzstan, long beach california

    Ali Igmen is Professor of History and Director of the Oral History Program at California State University at Long Beach. I asked him if there's anything to be learned from the experience of former Soviet republics when it comes to seismic changes to a way of life; about how it feels to be in California after nearly a month of the 'Shelter In Place' order. We talk about Kyrgyz theater during the Soviet era - about which I know almost nothing - and several other matters. And once again, I get anxious about authoritarian governments.

  • Episode 8: Katy Connors in Portland, Oregon, USA

    April 18th, 2020  |  39 mins 34 secs
    coronavirus, covid-19, covid-19 oregon, covid-19 portland, katy connors, portland or

    Katy Connors is Operations Manager for two restaurants in Portland, Oregon. Her husband is a chef. They were both laid off on the same day. We chat about seeing a catastrophe coming towards you and taking refuge in community. About uncertainty (if you listen to other episodes you'll be sensing a theme here...). How the restaurant industry as whole will be utterly transformed when we emerge from the current crisis. Rationing your exposure to Trump. And I get anxious again about the police and government hoarding power like a panic shopper buying up all the flour and bog roll.

  • Episode 7: Giulia Baldinelli in Rome

    April 16th, 2020  |  24 mins 37 secs
    coronavirus, coronavirus rome, covid-19 roma, covid-19 rome, giulia baldinelli, roma, rome

    'No cars, no noises, apart from ambulances.' Giulia Baldinelli was born in Rome and lives there still. She talks about a noisy city strangely quiet, the impact of the current crisis on some of the most vulnerable in society, and the difficulty of imagining what kind of country Italy will be when it emerges from its current struggle. Recorded on Tuesday 15th of April 2020.

  • Episode 6: Hana Zahir in Lahore, Pakistan

    April 10th, 2020  |  32 mins 6 secs
    coronavirus iran, coronavirus lahore, coronavirus pakistan, covid-19 lahore, covid-19 pakistan, hana zahir, lahore

    Hana Zahir is an economist who specializes in gender issues. She works for the Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan, based in Lahore. It's a city she describes as vibrant, cosmopolitan and - now - uncharacteristically quiet. We begin with a bit of background about Hana's work evaluating the impact of government policies on society. From there we touch on the legal rights of women to inherit land in Pakistan; the seasons of the city; the impact of the current pandemic on day to day life and how the most vulnerable groups in society are faring. A fascinating perspective on the global pandemic. Recorded on April 10th 2020 at 1600 Lahore time.

  • Episode 5: Kate Burke in Candelo, New South Wales

    April 3rd, 2020  |  33 mins 44 secs
    coronavirus, coronavirus australia, coronavirus nsw, covid-19 australia, covid-19 nsw, isolation, kate burke, social distance, social distancing

    Kate Burke is a musician: a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist based in rural New South Wales. In this chat we range far and wide: the impact of the pandemic on musicians; similarities between the bush fire crisis and the current situation; local, diverse activism; the decline of traditional party politics; family and the possibility of positive change.

  • Episode 4: Pádraig Ó Tuama, County Fermanagh, Ireland

    April 1st, 2020  |  25 mins 35 secs

    Poet Pádraig Ó Tuama on strange times, COVID-19 responses from the Republic of Ireland and UK governments, and the challenges ahead for all of us. Recorded at 1300 Ireland time / midnight AEDT, on Thursday 26th March 2020.

  • Episode 3: Chris Dolan in Glasgow

    March 31st, 2020  |  28 mins 5 secs
    chris dolan, coronavirus glasgow, covid-19 scotland, glasgow, glasgow covid-19, isolation, writer

    Chris Dolan is a writer living and working in Glasgow, in the west of Scotland. He and I worked on a couple of doccos together back in the early 2000s, and we had a great time. But this is the first time we've reconnected since, which seems strange, but in keeping with the times I suppose.

  • Episode 2: Marcie Sillman in Seattle

    March 30th, 2020  |  18 mins 41 secs
    bellevue, coronavirus, covid-19, jay inslee, kuow, marcie sillman, seattle coronavirus outbreak, washington state

    Marcie Sillman is senior reporter for Arts and Culture at KUOW, one of the public radio stations in Seattle Washington. Kirkland, just to the east of Seattle, was one of the first US cities to report a surge in cases of COVID-19. Recorded on Thursday 26th March at 0700 Melbourne time (AEDT).

  • Episode 1: Amanda Hargreaves in Rome

    March 27th, 2020  |  29 mins 46 secs

    Amanda Hargreaves has been living in Rome with her husband and two kids for the past seven years. A few weeks back they started getting ready to move back to the UK. Then COVID-19 happened.