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Project 7: We Can't Do This Alone

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Manda Scott teaches Shamanic dreaming.  Michaela Hempen studies behavior analysis.  In this podcast we weave these two very different worlds together as we head towards a conversation about habits.  Why habits?  You’ll see why in part two of this conversation.  

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Episode 7: Cribbing and Creating Habits: Part 2 of a Conversation with Manda Scott and Michaela Hempen

Published Dec. 27, 2019

This is the time of the year when people talk about making (and then not following through) on New Year’s Resolutions.  

What has cribbing got to do with New Year’s Resolutions?  It turns out quite a lot. Cribbing is a behavior most horse owners would love to eliminate.  In this podcast Dr. Michaela Hempen describes a behavior change procedure for doing just that.  She is building good new habits that replace the cribbing behavior.

Are you making some New Year’s Resolutions? Do you have an unwanted habit you’d like to eliminate? Or is there a desired new habit you’d like to create?  And would you like this to be the year you actually follow through and succeed in your New Year’s Resolutions?  As unlikely as it may sound, this discussion of cribbing may provide you with a procedure that can help you reach your goals.

Next question: What has cribbing got to do with the climate change crisis.  It turns out quite a lot.  We are in the habit of living a modern, energy-consuming life style.  What are some of the simple changes we could make that collectively can make a big difference?  

Are you in the habit of remembering to take your reusable shopping bags to the grocery store?  When you’re in the store, are you in the habit of thinking about the environmental impact of the choices you’re making?  

When you’re cold, are you in the habit of reaching for a sweater instead of turning up the thermostat?  These are just a few examples.  There are many simple habits of thought and action that added all together will make a difference in the climate change crisis.

In this podcast I have brought two people together who look at the world in very different ways.  Manda Scott teaches meditation and Shamanic dreaming.  Michaela Hempen studies applied behavior analysis.  They connect through their interest in behavior change.  Good habits begin with small loops.  The changes you begin with are small ones, sandwiched into habits you already have.  To learn more listen to the podcast at: or subscribe to it via your favorite podcast provider.

Happy New Year! May this be the year filled with many positive changes for the planet. Let’s make it our New Year’s Resolution to choose actions that move things in that direction.

(P.S.: At the end of this podcast Michaela talks about the gofundme campaign she set up to keep her research project going and to make sure that the final resulots can be published in an open source journal.  She set up a web page for the horse that she is using in her study.  If you would like to see some astounding before and after video visit:

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Most of us are comfortable taking private actions.  We can recycle more.  We can take reusable shopping bags with us to the grocery store.  We can drive more fuel efficient cars.  These are comfortable, easy steps to take to help in the climate change crisis.  

But what about the more public actions?  These are harder steps to take going from the anonymity of our private lives to standing up publicly for what we cherish.

I recorded this interview with Manda Scott the day after the general election in the UK.  Manda had been out late the day before working in support of the Labour candidates.  The election of Boris Johnson left her feeling very depressed.  

Even though she was exceedingly tired we ended up having a long and extremely powerful conversation centered around this topic of shifting from private to public actions.

Horse people can make a difference.  I keep saying that.  Sometimes making a difference means changing the way we keep our horses.  Sometimes it means speaking out.  The horse people I know all love being outside.  Our horses carry us beyond the paddock gate out into wild places many people never get to see.  We can make a difference by sharing our love not only of horses, but of the land they carry us over.  

In this podcast Manda helps us find ways to make our voices heard.


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Horse people can make a difference in the climate change crisis.  Together we’re learning how.

Manda and I recorded this conversation in December 2019.  It was the day after the General Election was held in the UK in which Boris Johnson won a sizable majority.  On the other side of the Atlantic the Impeachment Hearings in the House were in full swing so politics were very much on our mind.   

As I was preparing this podcast for airing, the news was filled with so many grim reports.  Australia is burning, Jakarta Indonesia is drowning, Norway is sweltering in the heat.   There comes a point where you just can’t be silent anymore.

The question is how can we talk outside our own echo chamber in a way that opens doors instead of slamming them shut.  In the US we are entering an election year.  If we don’t learn to talk to one another, we truly will break apart.

Horse people can make a difference.  In the positive reinforcement community our horses are teaching us to focus on what we want.  We learn not to push against or direct our energy towards unwanted behavior.  We can take these lessons with us as we learn how to talk about what is important to us - a healthy planet and a future for the ones we love.

In this podcast we’ll follow this thread into a discussion of habits.

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The conversation continues with a discussion of habits.  We are at the beginning of a long Presidential campaign.  We don't talk about one candidate versus another.  The question is: if you want to become more actively involved in the campaign, what small steps could you follow that you get you there?

We can all play different roles in climate change crisis.  Some will focus on private actions, others will want to become more publicly involved.  This podcast explores steps for moving towards taking more public actions.

Listen to this here or subscribe to it via your podcast provider.

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Here we are again - at the start of another Presidential election year.  Please don’t stop reading.  This isn’t about politics - not directly anyway. 


In the US we are becoming a divided nation.  If you step outside your echo chamber, you are immediately treading on dangerous ground.  What do you talk about that won’t raise someone else’s hackles? We can’t even talk about the weather anymore.  It used to be the safe, go-to subject.  But any talk of weather leads straight to the climate crisis and now we’re on dangerous ground again.

So how do we talk to one another?  And most especially how do we talk to people whose world view is different from our own?  That’s what this current episode is exploring.  It begins with a summary of the work of cognitive linguist, George Layoff. 


That’s a good launching point for developing communication skills that open doors instead of slamming them shut.  If you have read this description through to this point, I have at least managed to keep the door cracked open.  Hopefully, you’ll be curious enough to step inside and hear the connection between George Lakoff’s work and climate change.

Listen to this podcasts here or subscribe to it using your podcast provider.

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Episode 14: Tribalism and The Power of Words Pt 1

I’ve been thinking a lot about language and the role it plays in behavior change.  That was the launching point for an afternoon’s conversation with Manda Scott.  Manda surprised me with an unexpected discussion of oxytocin and the role that it plays in creating strong feelings of tribal loyalty. 


Yes, we can learn better management practices for the land that we care for.  We can look at sustainable agricultural practices.  We can make choices on a personal level that increase biodiversity in our fields and hedgerows, but somehow that doesn’t feel like enough, not when we are entering such a politically charged year.  The choices we make really will make a difference, but I don’t want to turn this podcast into a political diatribe.  I don’t want it to become an “us” versus “them” rant.  That gets us no where.  

In part 1 of this conversation Manda shares with us the relationship that oxytocin appears to have in strengthening bonds within a community.  We may think we’re making a rational, reasoned choice when we select a candidate to support, but are we?  If we want to move beyond the divisive tribalism of the current political system, what does that even look like?  The question we’re dancing around is this: what does it take to really trigger our intrinsic values so  we can build a sense of community that includes the whole web of life on this planet?

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Episode 15: Tribalism and The Power of Words Pt 2



How do we talk to one another so we can connect around common interests?  That was the main focus of Part 2 of our conversation. 


The norm these days seems to be we're splitting further and further apart into separate camps.  We're very much living in "us versus them" times.  This intense tribalism doesn't really help anyone so what can be done?  How do we shift our focus so we become constructive in our actions?  Once again, horses give us the model.

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