July 28, 2020

Voice Of A Change Maker - Charlotte Church | Episode 28

Voice Of A Change Maker - Charlotte Church | Episode 28

 

Charlotte Church is a world-renowned singer and founder of The Awen Project

 

Listen to Charlotte as she talks about:

 

What success means to her.

 

The way we educate is completely outdated

 

Her Awen school project

 

Why she wants to help make the world a better place

 

Why she wants to be a part of creative change

 

Going on BBC’s Question Time

 

What makes her happy

https://www.theawenproject.com/

/////

 

Today's podcast is brought to you by:

We Make Film Happen http://wemakefilmhappen.com/

We Make Good Happen http://wemakegoodhappen.com/

We Make Podcasts Happen https://www.wemakepodcastshappen.com

Podcast Like a Pro: https://www.podcastlikeapro.co.uk/

 

We tap into the minds of people like adventurers, world record holders, entrepreneurs, voice coaches, psychologists, musicians and people making a positive difference around the world.

 

We want to find out what’s their path to success and what have they learnt along the way.

 

This is real stories from real people.

 

Plus we want to find out what success means to them.

 

The We Make Success Happen podcast is hosted by Matt Callanan, a former international DJ and musician turned filmmaker (with We Make Film Happen) and founder of the kindness project We Make Good Happen.

 

https://mattcallanan.co.uk/

 

http://wemakesuccesshappen.com

//

Want to know how to set up and launch a successful podcast?

Sign up to my course - Podcast Like a Pro: 

https://www.podcastlikeapro.co.uk/

Want 50 podcast secrets that took this podcast to No.1?

http://mypodcastsecrets.com/

 

 


Transcript

Matt Callanan: 

Hello and welcome to We Make Success Happen podcast. Today, with amazing human and gorgeous lady, Charlotte Church. 

Charlotte Church: Hello. 

Matt Callanan: Hello. 

Charlotte Church: How goes? 

Matt Callanan: 

How goes. Yeah. So I'm going to ask you a question I normally ask other people at the end. What does success mean to you? 

Charlotte Church: 

What does success mean to me? I think success to me is something that isn't about the... I suppose, the traditional idea of success, gathering materialistic stuff, which I imagine is for a lot of people. But I'm always searching for something a bit deeper, a bit more fulfilling. So success to me, I suppose, is finding meaning in things because we're creating, we're meaning making machines. Our brains are meaning making machines. 

Charlotte Church: 

And so being able to successfully create meaning out of this physical reality that we are experiencing. And I think that's what brings us the contentment and happiness and those sorts of things. So yeah, it's being able to find meaning in the things that I'm doing, whether that's in personal relationships, whether it's in the work that I undertake. Yeah, all of it. 

Charlotte Church: 

And also, remembering because I think a great deal of our human experience is actually just about remembering how we've always done this stuff. We've got all of the wisdom, we've got so much innate wisdom within us. Me talking about this in this costume as well, I look ridiculous. We've got so much innate wisdom within. And so I think a great deal of our existence should just be about remembering. So success is remembering well. Remembering to remember. 

Matt Callanan:
Yeah. Did success means something different to you when you were say 16, 18, 20? 

Charlotte Church:
Totally. I was more of a normal. 

Matt Callanan:
 What's a normal? 

Charlotte Church: 

A normal just sort of quite mainstream, have very mainstream opinions, didn't ponder too deeply about many things. 

Matt Callanan:
Did you know you're normal then? 

Charlotte Church: 

I don't know. Probably, yeah. I think I was striving to be a normal. My situation was so out of the ordinary that actually that's all I craved. I just wanted to be like everybody else. 

Matt Callanan:
Right. I see what you mean there. 

Charlotte Church: 

And also, as a teenager as well, that's what you want as well. You just want to be like everybody else, and to stand out. I think it might be becoming slightly more different now, in a way. But in a way, it's even more about conformity youth nowadays, when you look at things like Tik Tok. It's like an ant hill. Yeah, I craved to be normal. 

Charlotte Church: 

And to fit in. But yes, it meant... Back then, I was very much into clothes and image and all of that sort of stuff, which I just don't really care about anymore. 

Matt Callanan:
When do you think it clicked then? For this kind of remembering and the meaning sense of success? 

Charlotte Church:
I think it just happened over time. 

Matt Callanan: Last week. 

Charlotte Church: 

Yeah. Last week. During lockdown. And it just over time you start to understand patterns. Patterns of behavior, patterns of trauma that we all carry. And life is about trying to reintegrate certain things back into your person, I think. Everybody's been through trauma. Everybody's got loads of pain and loads of dark stuff that we all carry With us. Yeah, I think it's about just trying to reintegrate yourself as a whole. 

Charlotte Church: 

And the vast, not the vast majority at the time, every time that has nothing to do with many stuff, or beauty, or any of the sort of shallow societal things that we put on a pedestal. But it's a general... It's an unshackling. And now, I think I'm just really interested in creating systems. I still love singing and making music and all of that, and I will always do that until I die. But the thing that I'm really interested in trying to tackle is education. 

Charlotte Church: 

Because I think the way that we educate is completely outdated, and in part quite harmful to many people. I think some young people can get through it and can mold themselves to fit into the boxes and to fit into the shapes that the system needs them to be. But for many people that is deeply impactful on their lives and often in an active way. So I think the way that we educate is very flawed. And I would like to try and be a part of how we can change that. 

Charlotte Church: 

So I've set up a school and a charity called the Awen Project, which aims to eventually help to empower and seed fund communities to set up their own democratic creative schools. So yeah, we started that last September. We've got 19 students aged between eight and 13. And we're literally in our last week now, in our last week of term. So it's been an amazing year. The exponential learning curve has been [inaudible 00:05:59] exponential. 

Matt Callanan: Very, very steep. 

Charlotte Church:
Very, very steep and fascinating. By far the most creative thing I've ever been a part of, and essentially- 

Matt Callanan:
Really? The most creative thing you've been [crosstalk 00:06:12] 

Charlotte Church:
By far. And that's what education should be, I think. 

Matt Callanan: 

Why do you think that is? Is that because of the kids and their kind of train of thinking? You're just like, "Oh, I hadn't thought about that or that pathway? 

Charlotte Church: 

Well, at the Awen Project, I suppose we're trying to do... Part of what we're trying to do is say, "Whilst adults have a lot of great knowledge in which to curate to children, it isn't about the old ways, it isn't about patterns of behavior. It's about empowering students and listening to young people to be able to create their own systems to be able to create their own societies based on stuff that we know now rather than stuff that we just have been conformed into thinking and that's part of the democratic elements of the education." 

Charlotte Church: 

So they're basically forming their own little society. And they get a say in... Every person within the school gets a say in everything to do with the school, the rules, the punishments, the curriculum, all of it. They have a huge voice and a huge part in everything to do with their education, which takes up a huge part of their childhood. And it's just fascinating to watch. At the start the democratic meeting, which they renamed the gathering. 

Matt Callanan: 

Can you explain how that works? I've seen as it happened but for the viewers and listeners, how's that work? 

Charlotte Church: 

So it happens twice a week, and anybody can put anything on the agenda, a student chairs the meeting and different student each week. We have got a permanent chair at the moment. So that last but a permanent chair is about three weeks to a month. And that means that that's a skill within itself, being able to chair and hold a meeting. 

Matt Callanan:
One of the kids is the chair. Yeah. 

Charlotte Church: 

Yep. So one of the kids is always the chair. And they discuss all sorts of different things. They discuss behavioral stuff, they discuss the things that they want to do, things that they're unhappy with within the school and how it runs things, how they want things to change, different ideas. And some things work and some things don't. The adults also have a vote but obviously, are outnumbered by the children so the children have them the majority. 

Charlotte Church

Yeah, the adults also have a say in what happens but a lot of the time it means as an adult, potentially foreseeing something that might not work. But you have to let it play out because- 

Matt Callanan: Even if it's chaos. 

Charlotte Church: 

It's never chaos. And actually, it very quickly becomes quite ordered and quite structured because what as they're learning, "Okay, that doesn't work. And okay, this doesn't work." They become better at it. And isn't that the point? So it's been really fast. And sometimes it's very frivolous stuff like where are we going to have our birthday parties? And sometimes it's really deep set questions that society itself is struggling with. 

Charlotte Church: 

Like should we have separate boys and girls toilets? What are we going to do with this person in our community who is a bully? Or whatever it might be. So often they have very complex questions that adults don't have any answers for really. Yeah, really, utterly fascinating process. And what I hope that we can do is the Awen Project is empower the communities and it doesn't just have to be in the UK, throughout the world, to do this for themselves, to set up their own schools. 

Charlotte Church: 

Because I think that's what it needs to be. In many places in the world, including the UK, you haven't gotten a funding in education for whatever reason, whether it's purposely being defunded or whether there isn't enough money, whether there's too many children, whatever it might be. The state is struggling to provide a decent education for everybody. And I think that this COVID-19 pandemic is being a great teacher. Harsh one, but I don't think we've learned all the lessons that this pandemic has to give us yet. 

Charlotte Church: 

I think a lot of things in society are going to change and transform, including people's work hours and maybe including education as well. And how we educate is making us have to have a little think, and also to slow down because the world was going at such a pace, such a rate of change, because of the speeds of technology, that we were just weren't stopping to think about anything and about how we were doing things, we were just on autopilot. And then also just this capitalist insatiable consumerist monster. 

Matt Callanan:
Get back to work, get shopping again. 

Charlotte Church: 

And of course, that's what world governments are saying at the moment. It's like, "Okay, well, we need to save the economies." And maybe we do. Maybe that's where this is going to go. Personally, I feel like we're going to keep trying to get back to normal. And this pandemic is going to keep going, "Nope, you're not learning what you should be learning." But it depends what you believe, isn't it? If you believe that this is a Wuhan conspiracy, if you believe that this is a 5G conspiracy. I mean, there are so many conspiracies theories. 

Matt Callanan:
It's all about the 5G. 

Charlotte Church: 

I mean, personally, I believe that perhaps, evolution is conscious somehow, and this is a very big stop to humanity. We're ruining the planet very, very quickly now. And I can't think of another thing. Before COVID-19 hit, who could have imagined that the world would stop like this? It was just unimaginable, completely unimaginable. There's lots of lessons to be learnt from this pandemic, and hopefully we learn them but I'm not sure if we've got much choice in the matter. 

Matt Callanan: 

Yeah, might be forced upon us, isn't it? When did education become important to you? Was there a certain event that happened or when did you want? Especially, if it became almost more important to you than music? 

 Charlotte Church: 

I think that with the birth of my children. I mean, well, when they were little, I didn't think about it at all. I'd never really thought about education before. I myself had quite a weird education. I have tutors on the road. I still go back to school when I was home but my education was traveling the world and working. And it was an incredible experience, hardcore. 

Charlotte Church: 

Really, I had so much responsibility and pressure but also, what amazing exposure to all sorts of different things and people and environments and countries and cultures. So I'm very grateful for the education I had. 

Matt Callanan:
What was the big education you learn then from that part of the journey? 

Charlotte Church: 

So much. I think more than anything, it's about exposure, just about different exposure to different things in life and traveling the amount that I did, singing with different orchestras all over the world. I worked with some incredible artists, people like James Horner, and gosh, so many amazing, really powerful people. I sang for presidents and Popes. I just have this crazy, crazy experience. 

Charlotte Church: 

But also I was doing interviews daily and that was very complex in different ways because sometimes you'd be on a TV show in Brazil and sometimes you'd be in Japan and it was all very culturally different and you have to adjust. So it's difficult to pinpoint what it was. But in part, it was the fact that I had to take... I had quite a lot of responsibility. I had quite a lot of autonomy in parts, and I did a lot of traveling. 

Charlotte Church: 

But with my two, it was when we started looking at schools for them. So when Ruby was about three, we would go around to the local primaries, and I didn't want them to go to private school. I don't believe in private education. The primaries were nice enough but something just didn't feel right. It just felt a bit like, "Oh, they're really little. They're so little." It was like almost sending them to like a full-time job. 

Matt Callanan:
When you say little, do you mean little thinking or little, little? 

Charlotte Church: 

They were just little. It was like, "Oh, my gosh, I'm going to be sending my four-year-old to like a job. A Monday to Friday a past nine till a past three job." It's quite a lot. And so that was the first thing that made me go, "I don't think I want to do this." Because otherwise you just go along with it, don't you? It's just what happens. 

Matt Callanan:
It's supposedly the norm, isn't it? 

Charlotte Church: 

Yeah. 

Matt Callanan:
It's what everyone else does. 

Charlotte Church: 

Yeah, totally. It's just what happens and you've got stuff to do. And you want to get on with your career and this, that and the other so this is what happens. We found a little Steiner school for them, which was lovely. It was like a home from home learning environment but no structured learning until they were six or seven. But even that then wasn't quite right. It's based on the 100-year-old dogma of this dude, Rudolf Steiner, which is fine, if you're into that but it's not very scientific in terms of what we know about the brain and learning and cognition and stuff nowadays. 

Charlotte Church: 

And all throughout this time, our family and stuff were quite anti what we were doing. "Oh, they need to learn to read and write, you're going to put them at such a disadvantage." So we had a lot of resistance. We pulled them out of Steiner school, and we were like, "Okay, we might have made a bit of a boo boo here with this alternative education. We'll homeschool them for a year and then we'll put them back into the mainstream system." 

Charlotte Church: 

We've tried this alternative progressive education. And then when we homeschooled them for a year, it was lush. It was really great. I didn't do it solely myself. It was me and my husband. After a year of doing it ourselves, we got a part-time teacher in because a couple of other kids joined us as well then. We were like, "Oh, God. Because teaching other people's children as well." 

Matt Callanan:
So it was a natural thing that... It was naturally so planned in that way? 

Charlotte Church: 

No, not at all. Not at all. Didn't plan any of it. Yes, just circumstance and just happened. But yeah, it was a really great experience to start to think about education and what you want your kids to know and learn and be a part of. And me and my daughter really struggled at the start. 

Matt Callanan:
As in your relationship? 

Charlotte Church:
Yeah, she just really didn't want to be... I was trying to be teacher essentially. 

Matt Callanan:
Because I guess that's a different role to being a mom, isn't it? 

Charlotte Church: 

Absolutely. And she really rejected that from me. Like just could not deal with it. And so then we just went out into the forest. And I started doing forest school stuff. And we still do bits and bobs of academic education but out in the forest and we do it through the idea of making a tree house models and understanding how different tribal cultures might build their houses 50-foot up or 50 meters up in the tree canopy and all this sort of cool different stuff that you can bring in. But just to get outside the classroom just made me stop trying to be a teacher as well to which I think is really important. 

Matt Callanan:
As in the traditional sense of what a teacher should be. 

Charlotte Church: 

Absolutely. Because there's a power dynamic and there's a hierarchy and there's a hierarchy of knowledge as well, of course. And what we want to try and do with the Awen Project is I think more than anything is make people feel competent. And I think that that is something that education in general isn't really doing necessarily. But as soon as people, start to feel quite competent, then they generally start flying. But the thing is that when you spread it across so many different subjects and stuff, nobody's going to be competent in all of it. 

Matt Callanan:
And do we need all of that junk anyway? 

Charlotte Church: 

Exactly. So it's hard to facilitate, of course. And you want people to have some sort of basic knowledge around a lot of different things so they can understand what they are interested in, what they're not interested in. But it's just not how the world works, is it? People are different humans, they are capable in different areas. So then we homeschooled for four years, and it was brilliant, really, really great process. 

Charlotte Church: 

And I think this also coincided with, in terms of, my activism and things that I was trying to give back, trying to do to help out, to try and make the world a better place, wasn't really working out. YI was a big part of the [inaudible 00:20:00] movement. I really believe in kindness and a social safety net and community and these sorts of things. And obviously we've had a Tory government for 10 years which don't believe in the same things that I do. 

Charlotte Church: 

But I got to a stage where the things that I was trying to make better... It was just a bit like going outside and banging pots and pans on New Year's Eve, just making a whole lot of racket, a big load of noise and nothing really seemed to have that much of an impact. 

Matt Callanan:
Or you probably have to go into politics and even then it's probably a massive struggle anyway. 

Charlotte Church: 

Totally. But also the idea of going into politics as is, I mean, it's toxic. It's a toxic, toxic place. 

Matt Callanan:
Seems like a dirty game. 

Charlotte Church: 

Absolutely. And I've got no interest. Again, I want to be a part of something which is about creative change, which is about a metamorphosis, a transformation and I don't know if you can... This is goes back to a belief thing but I'm not sure if you can do that from the inside. I think you need to create systems outside. I think his name is Buckminster Fuller is an economist. I think he's like a right wing economist as well. There's a great quote of his, which says that to have change, you need to create a better system, essentially, which is just better than the old model. 

Matt Callanan:
Yeah. And I guess may not actually exist. 

Charlotte Church:
Yeah, totally. So just creating new systems of how things work. 

Matt Callanan:
You mentioned there that you wanted to give back and help make the world a better place. Why is that? 

Charlotte Church: 

Because I think it's a duty of all humans, that at some point, it is best for everybody, including yourself, to figure out what it is that you're going to bring to the party. There's lots of research showing that to philanthropy, charity, kindness, giving back, all of that sort of stuff is really beneficial to us as well and our mental health. And I think, within the pandemic, particularly, but even before then we are in a bit of a crisis of meaning in the world. 

Charlotte Church: 

I think that's why a lot of people are starting to feel the effects more and more of mental health disorders, we're becoming a bit more disconnected because of social media and such and smartphone addiction, which I think is a huge problem. We're having a bit of a mental health crisis and the crisis of meaning. And in part again, I think it's about remembering, I think the answer is very simple, really, really simple. A bit boring in a way. 

Charlotte Church: 

To go, "Oh." I see it's about community and connection and helping and me figuring out who I am and where I fit within this and what I can bring. What are my skills? Who is it that I want to help? What am I passionate about? And how can I do that? And how can I fit that to my life where I have to do this other stuff? Whether it's I have to make money or hold on a job or however your existence is. If we all do a little bit of that, then it's going to go a very, very long way. 

Charlotte Church: 

Whether it's the climate and ecology that you're passionate about, whether it's human beings, whether it's animals, there's loads of choice out there for things and people and planet in crisis. So there are lots of ways in which to be helpful. And again, maybe it goes back to that thing about competence to really start to feel like that you are valued needed, which a lot of people currently aren't feeling and I think that's just ramping up anxiety and stuff. 

Matt Callanan:
What do you want your legacy to be? 

Charlotte Church:
Legacy to me is quite masculine thing. 

Matt Callanan: Do you think? 

Charlotte Church: Yeah. 

Matt Callanan:
How do you want to be remembered? 

Charlotte Church: 

Traditionally, I don't need to be remembered. I just want for... I suppose the thing, I think that children are the last people on earth to be liberated. And I think that if we start to think about children's rights, yeah, if we start to think about children's rights and how we stop systematically making children conform to the old ways, and that isn't necessarily that there isn't wisdom within the old ways, but actually, the majority of the stuff that we're doing at the moment is not really working. 

Charlotte Church: 

So we need to be rethinking this stuff, and we need to be co-constructing it with our young people. So I think that obviously, the masculine and the feminine on earth is completely out of work, has been out of work for quite a long time. I think that we need to really start to think about how we raise women up and how we create a more equal society, for everybody that it's not equal for. 

Charlotte Church: 

I think that wealth and equality is a huge issue. I don't even know how you start with that because obviously the 400 wealthiest people in the world is someone that owns, like 60% of all of the wealth on earth like 400 people. It's unbelievable. But yeah, there are obviously some gum chewing problems. But there are some very creative, very smart people who are working on them. And I think it's about just a willingness to change. 

Matt Callanan: 

What's the one thing you were told about success maybe early on, that you now know to be false or untrue? 

Charlotte Church: 

There's bound to be loads. I had loads of really bad advice. 

Matt Callanan: Really? 

Charlotte Church: Absolutely. 

Matt Callanan:
Well, from a whole range of people? 

Charlotte Church:
From a whole range of people. From lawyers, to managers, to friends, to parents. Loads of bad advice. 

Matt Callanan:
What was the sort of final decider or the decision makers? 

Charlotte Church: 

Well, no. In different... I mean, of course, as a teenager, I felt like I didn't have anywhere near enough control and all the rest of it but actually looking back, my parents are pretty good. And they did try and give me as much autonomy as they could in the situation. But then again, I was a commodity. I was earning different corporations tens of millions of pounds. And so a child's autonomy gets somewhat lost in that. 

Charlotte Church: 

I'm trying to think of particularly bad advice about success. I think a lot of my success was down to luck. I think a lot of people success is down to luck. And that's maybe a bit of a bitter pill to swallow. Maybe it's not true, as well. Maybe it is all completely hard work and you create your own at least conditions for success to manifest, which I absolutely believe in as well. 

Charlotte Church: 

I believe in hard work and perseverance and patience and all the rest of it. But I absolutely think that, for me, I was incredibly lucky. There was lots of very talented people that I knew growing up, who didn't get anywhere near the success that I got. So yeah, who's to say how success to the level that I got to which was quite rare, especially for my age, where that came from. But also success to that level is a very strange experience as well because you become public property. 

Matt Callanan:
Do you kind of realize that the time that you're in that public property space? 

Charlotte Church: 

Absolutely. Oh, you can't not realize it. Like it's very, very... Yeah, in your face. You are. People feel like they own you. 

Matt Callanan: 

Is it a horrible feeling?  Was it a weird feeling? 

Charlotte Church: 

It's just weird. I think, again, for me, going through it as a child or as an early teenager, you accept a lot of stuff much easier than you would if you were an adult. So you just go with the flow and you're just trying to figure stuff out because you know so little anyway. Yeah, a lot of it was... Yeah, just trying to figure out what it was all about. 

Matt Callanan:
Yeah. When you say luck, why do you think you were lucky then? Like doing things at the right time? 

Charlotte Church: 

Yeah, absolutely. I had natural skill and ability and talent, and I worked hard at it. And I loved it, I had such passion for it. I loved singing. And then when I started to travel the world and become famous and do interviews and go on TV and stuff. I was genuinely, absolutely overjoyed to be there. And I came from a family of performers and everybody in my family is really outspoken. So I wasn't shy, I was quite happy just to go and chat wherever I was, which people seem to like. 

Charlotte Church: 

But yeah, I mean, it's a really psychologically, grinding process to become that successful when you're that young but probably at any time to become that successful is an odd thing. Because yeah, it puts you in a realm of where very few people are. And when you're a child, there are even few people, even fewer people there but I also wasn't really into... I used to just want to come home all the time. I wasn't interested in any sort of celebrity scene or hanging out at awards, ceremonies and stuff. 

Charlotte Church: 

I just wanted to come home. I wanted to go to the end ratings disco in Cardiff if I could, which most times, I couldn't. But that's what mattered to me. My world was actually quite small. But yes, success to that level is a funny thing. For a lot of people, it's probably the most natural thing in the world. And this is what I deserve. But for me, it was odd. Very odd. And actually, I much prefer my life now where I can fray into the limelight if I want to. 

Charlotte Church: 

And I still feel like if I wanted to have a lot of success again, I could but I'd have to compromise some of my values about what I think's important, or what I think is good, what I think is worth making. Because I'm not very mainstream anymore and the mainstream requires a certain amount of waffle, for want of a better word. And so I'm quite happy with where I am. I get to keep in my little bubble sacrosanct and my children safe and not growing up in the limelight and such which is really important to me. 

Matt Callanan:
So you've got bit more control, I guess. 

Charlotte Church:
Yeah, absolutely. 

Matt Callanan:
Did you feel out of control when you were younger or being a teenager? 

Charlotte Church: 

Yeah. And I think part of that as well was the press intrusion and the press interests, which it was just so cruel. It was a really, really cruel industry. And obviously, now that's shifted. Now, that's more like social media platforms and normal people being able to say absolutely heinous things. 

Charlotte Church: 

But yeah, for me, it was all wrapped up in being splattered over the front page of something and having my boyfriends when I was a teenager selling story, selling sex stories, which was gross, all sorts of really crazy intrusions. So, yes, I wouldn't wish that on anybody. It's not a very nice process to go through. It is however, as everything is, a teacher. 

Matt Callanan: 

Yeah. Because I guess you sometimes got the press and everyone on social media kind of jumping in if they want to as well. 

Charlotte Church: 

Yeah. And I don't really have that so much anymore. I mean, I still do. A couple of years ago I went on Question Time and I spoke about- 

Matt Callanan:
You were very good on that. 

Charlotte Church:
Thank you very much. I spoke about [crosstalk 00:32:35] 

Matt Callanan:
How was it on the other side actually kind of sitting there? 

Charlotte Church: It was horrendous. 

Matt Callanan: Was it? 

Charlotte Church:
It was absolutely horrendous. It's so nerve racking. 

Matt Callanan: 

 Well, because it's live or? 

Charlotte Church: 

Because it's live, because it's politics. So it was out of my comfort zone. I did it twice. Did I do it twice? Yeah, I did it twice. And also your cannon fodder really. But also you want to get across what you want to get across but also there are so many people who were just waiting for you to say the wrong thing. 

Matt Callanan:
Like trip up or something. 

Charlotte Church: 

Yeah. And so I talked about an idea that part of the Syrian civil war was to do with climate change, essentially. That there had been really bad droughts in Syria in the months preceding. And so they've been mass migration from rural areas to the cities which puts extra pressure on the resources and such. And so that had contributed to the start of the Syrian civil war. And this was I think, the sun went with voice of an angel, brain of angel to light. 

Charlotte Church: 

And this is after years like I hadn't been tabloid fodder effort for a while. And then social media was going crazy and all these right wingers were coming out left right and center, shun things that ISIS is because of global warming and this sort of stuff which is not bad but then I got quite a lot of abuse as well. But yeah, for me, I feel like it's not quite my generation in a way that's for people who have been famous now in the last five to seven years who have really had that horrific social media stuff. 

Charlotte Church: 

I mean, I do. It really it does annoy me. I do sometimes... I've traded spots with people like Piers Morgan and such. And again, you get... It really ignites and in flames loads of right wingers but also loads of bots. Let's remember that this is, for some reason, there are people who were purposefully trying to make this social media a really confusing, really negative, heinous place through the use of AI And bots and stuff, which is baffling. 

Matt Callanan:
Made people think a certain way. 

Charlotte Church: 

Yeah, absolutely. It's about influencing. But also it's just about chaos as well. Really interesting. One of Putin's right hand men, a guy called [inaudible 00:35:15] I don't think he still one of Putin's right hand men but a couple of years back, he was and he came from a performance art background. And so he was the one who brought into Russia a lot of this misdirection. 

Matt Callanan: Okay. 

Charlotte Church: 

And this not necessarily fake news but they would fund lots of differing organizations and different 

opinions and viewpoints in Russia, just to muddy the waters, just to create- 

Matt Callanan:
Distraction techniques or something. 

Charlotte Church: 

Yeah, but it's more about just muddying the waters so you don't understand what reality is anymore. And I feel like this is potentially what's happening on a world scale now. Especially, when you look at the rise of conspiracy. So for me, right now, that's the thing I'm most worried about. I am most worried that conspiracies, all of these different conspiracy theories are becoming a much more widely accepted part of what people believe and think. 

Charlotte Church: 

And that's a real problem because I don't know how you fight it because people feel, people are seemingly almost religious in their belief of this sort of stuff. I mean, I'll give attention and I'll listen to every viewpoint but it's about confirmation bias, isn't it? And fundamentally what it boils down to, for me, with the conspiracy stuff is that either you think there's a big body or a group of people bodies who are controlling everything, who are... Whether it's trying to kill half the world because the population's too large, get all of the money, whatever it might be. 

Charlotte Church: 

Either you think that there are people who are so powerful and so clever and so good at organization that they're managing to make this stuff happen or you believe a bit more in chaos, which is that actually a lot of the people in power aren't very competent. Our systems aren't very ergonomic for all of the efficiency and productivity we've been working towards and chaos reigns. But yet it the conspiracy stuff is the stuff that I find the most worrying currently. 

Charlotte Church: 

And of course, the answer to it is education, is teaching people how to discern for themselves what is good information and what is bad information, and how we discern that, what processes we go through. 

Matt Callanan:
That's got to be key for young people these days, aren't they? 

Charlotte Church: 

Absolutely. But again, the problem is, when you're looking at technology and things like deep faking, will that be as discernible in five years, in seven years, in two years, than it is now? Because it's not very discernible now. 

Matt Callanan:
Everything's going to have to be fact checked. 

Charlotte Church: 

But not even fact checked. Because imagine if you're deep faking video of people speaking. I mean, that's the ultimate fact check really, isn't it? Is seeing a video of somebody saying some stuff. Now, if that can be deep faked then, I don't know. I don't know what happens then. We're a bit naked or indeed we just turn off all technology or maybe there'll be a solar flare which will do it for us. 

Matt Callanan: A what? 

Charlotte Church: A solar flare. 

Matt Callanan:
But what happened then? 

Charlotte Church:
If there's a big enough solar flare, which is [crosstalk 00:38:58] 

Matt Callanan:
Does that blow up the world? 

Charlotte Church:
No, it would just knock out all communication. 

Matt Callanan:
Oh, really? Is that what you're building in the garden? 

Charlotte Church:
No, only the sun is powerful enough to do it. 

Matt Callanan:
Yeah. Okay. Is that scheduled this summer? Is that this year? 

Charlotte Church:
No, but we would only have like about 24 hours notice. 

Matt Callanan: Oh, really? 

Charlotte Church: 

Yeah. And it does happen. Sometimes the sun would put out a solar flare that knocks... So sometimes your phone might go down. And if you phoned your provider, then they'd say, "Oh, well, there's been this thing." They've got to be careful with it, with GPS and flying systems. And so they have to keep an eye on the sun and the sun's activity. But who knows, I do think that there might be a backlash against smartphones and technology, social media in general in the next couple of years. I, for about a year and a half. I went back to having a Nokia 3310. Just a really basic phone. 

Matt Callanan: You could just text. 

Charlotte Church: 

So I could just text and call. And I tell you what? The amount of headspace that I had was unreal. The amount of space to think. I mean, it's not even just to think, just the amount of space in my life was amazing. But then it's almost like when you come out of, if you're an addict to anything, then you're very sensitive to the people around you who are addicted. And then with something like technology and smartphones and social media, there's a lot of addicted people. 

Charlotte Church: 

There's a lot of people who are spending four, five, six, seven, eight hours a day, just glued to their phones, glued to checking and scrolling. 

Matt Callanan:
There's always knew, always something else to look at, isn't it? 

Charlotte Church: Exactly. 

Matt Callanan:
You can see why people get addicted. 

Charlotte Church: 

The reason that people get addicted is because these platforms, they are made, it is within the engineering of these platforms to make them addictive. That's part of the point. And it's very insidious, isn't it? Because it doesn't seem like it's that much of a problem. And you've got this whole marketing campaign, you're connecting with your friends all over the world and there's so much good stuff that's happening but actually, it's very shallow and it's not really connection. 

Charlotte Church: 

But more than anything, it takes a lot of your attention. So when you're paying attention or when your attention is split to your phone, then your attention is not elsewhere and the things that need your attention most are humans. 

Matt Callanan:
Yeah, the important stuff. 

Charlotte Church: Yeah. 

Matt Callanan: 

So how do you shift people's attention then away from an addictive device? 

Charlotte Church:
It's very difficult. It's really, really difficult. 

Matt Callanan: 

Especially, when you're trying to educate young people that these kind of shiny things that entertain them. 

Charlotte Church: 

I mean, we go through different phases with our own kids at home and how we deal with technology. We talk about it a lot, we talk about it a lot, we talk about how these things are made to be addictive, whether it's Fortnite or whether it's Tik Tok. The algorithms and such. It's made to keep you on there. 

Charlotte Church: 

So we talk about that but even the knowledge of that doesn't break the addictive pathways because essentially, this is brain chemical stuff. This is dopamine in your brain, which is the same pathway as things like cocaine and sugar. So it's really, really hard. It's really, really complex. 

Charlotte Church: 

In the school, we've gone through different phases of where people bring in their devices all the time. And then their children have come themselves to the conclusion that actually that doesn't really work because then people are just on their devices all the time, and they're not using them for educational purposes. And then people are showing each other stuff that they don't really want to see or whatever. 

Matt Callanan:
You're talking about punishments with the kids. 

Charlotte Church: 

So we had one term, where we looked at crime and punishment, we looked at rules, we looked at codes of conduct, we looked at witches and samurais and office workers. And then we created our own. And then the kids didn't really want to put any punishments in place. They preferred instead to just remind people and then that didn't work. But you let it play out. 

Matt Callanan: Yeah. 

Charlotte Church: 

And then the frustration mounts, and then they started putting sanctions in place, consequences. So we don't necessarily call them punishments. We talk about language a lot because we think that language is really important. And still now, I mean, nothing's ever perfect and everything is constantly evolving, especially when you've got little humans who are growing constantly, who are going through brain pruning and who were going through huge hormone changes, you're talking about a constantly shifting landscape of a complex social group. 

Charlotte Church: 

So they need to just be able to experiment and have adults be able to hold that and be confident enough in their own ability to be able to hold that ambiguity and uncertainty and just take these constantly shifting sands. And sometimes that means that punishments could be really harsh because when the kids are deciding it themselves. Sometimes it's perfectly proportionate to what's happened. And sometimes it's not enough. And the behavior keeps getting repeated. 

Charlotte Church: 

But it's no less effectful than what happens anyway, in most places. But it's really interesting. It's really, really interesting to see how they're learning and what they're taking. 

Matt Callanan: 

They're [inaudible 00:45:06] aren't they? As they go through that process. What does happiness mean to you? 

Charlotte Church: 

Happiness, I think is a concept that we've started to see is this constant, which is not true. And there's a neuroscientist from Cardiff called Dean Burnett, who's really an interesting guy. 

Matt Callanan: Good books? 

Charlotte Church: 

Great books. Went to the idiot brain, which is great. And he talks about toxic positivity, this idea of quite a shallow live, laugh, love thing that everybody seems to be trying to grasp at, or at least think this is what in the world and life is. It's just constantly trying to... That it is possible to attain this mythic level of constant happiness and maybe that's what enlightenment is mean. And maybe that's what the monks are all on about, the Buddhist monks. I don't think so. 

Charlotte Church: 

I think that contentment is something that we can aim for. But a lot of the time, contentment is about being comfortable. And a lot of the time that's not necessarily good for us that we are constantly aiming to be comfortable. I just want to be comfortable. I just want to be safe and comfortable. Well, that's not necessarily exposing us to new and exciting things or helping us learn or pushing us out of our comfort zone and making us do different things to understand more about ourselves. 

Charlotte Church: 

So I'm all about the suffering. Bring on the pain, bring on the pain, bring on the suffering. Whilst it's very unpleasant, a lot of the time whether it's grief, whether it's resistance, difficulty, discomfort, all of those things help us grow as well. There was a really interesting experiment. [inaudible 00:46:55] they did it but they were trying to recreate the conditions of Mars. 

Charlotte Church: 

And they were growing trees. So they're growing all these sorts of different plants and stuff in a big air tight pod in a desert somewhere to see how they could grow things on Mars, and these trees just weren't growing very tall, they get to a certain height, and then they'd stopped growing, and they couldn't figure it out for ages, until they finally realized it was the wind. The wind creates the resistance that trees needs to grow tall and have bigger roots, bigger, stronger roots and such. 

Charlotte Church: 

So I'm really interested... I'm really into that idea of resistance. We always need to have resistance. Especially, in a time like now in the world where things are so binary and resist. You just see things as either you believe this or you believe this. Maybe that's where we've got to because we need this binary resistance at this point in order for us to push forth to the next stage and do the right thing and save the planet, maybe it's going to end in a horrible dystopian nightmare. Who knows? The choice is yours. 

Matt Callanan:
So bring on the suffering then you say? 

Charlotte Church: 

Bring on the suffering. Absolutely. And it is where our deepest learning happens and our deepest humanity and empathy and understanding, I think. Understanding of reality, of the world, and of the human condition. And there's such beauty to be found in it. It's when I think we see other humans behaving so gorgeously, is when they see other people suffering and they're trying to be a bomb or a comfort or help in some way. 

Charlotte Church: 

So yeah, happiness is overrated. It's lovely to attain at times. That's the point. It's supposed to be peaks and troughs. And yes, I suppose as you get through life, you do want things to level out a little. Otherwise, it's bloody exhausting. But yeah, we'd surprise ourselves. There's a lot we can take. And there's still a lot to learn. 

Matt Callanan:
What makes you happy then? 

Charlotte Church: 

Watching my beautiful children be their marvelous selves. And at the moment, both of them are thriving, really thriving, flying, really starting to feel that competence from them that they're starting to actually feel like, "I can do this stuff. I'm really good at this stuff." I put a lot into that so that's wonderful. The Awen Project and seeing all of the kids that we have there, how they've changed in a year, how much they've grown in confidence and ability and skill is just wonderful. 

Charlotte Church: 

It's wonderful to be a part of watching their emotional complexity grow mainly just through conversation, just through them being a part of this democratic process. They're constantly talking, there's a lot of communication that goes on. So you can really see everybody growing, which is a joy, a pleasure to be a part of. And yeah, family, my parents, my grandparents, my husband. Just yeah, all of our friends, people. People, really. People and plants. 

Matt Callanan:
We're surrounded by a lot of plant right about now. 

Charlotte Church: I am obsessed. 

Matt Callanan:
Can you get any more plants hanging in here? 

Charlotte Church:
I've been thinking about training some Jasmine- 

Matt Callanan: Up the walls. 

Charlotte Church: 

To grow on the walls because then it would smell amazing as well. But I find plants have been a real bomb for me, actually. I was brought up a proper indoor kid. Like microchips, no vegetables, the telly, the four walls, we didn't go camping, we didn't go on walks it's just not how a lot of working class kids are brought up. 

Matt Callanan:
Yeah, because when you did that documentary you talked about not really going camping. 

Charlotte Church: 

Yeah, totally. And then you're very uncomfortable with the outdoors if you've been brought up like that. It's like, "Why would you... I can't walk. They'll put me in a car. I'm not working." And so yeah, the outdoors as soon as there's any adverse weather, you're like, "Oh, get in." And so it's been a process of opening up to nature for me, over the past 10 years, probably. 

Charlotte Church: 

And now, I am completely obsessed. I just find it such a huge joy and resource and just for whatever I need it for really. It's just abundant, isn't it? I mean, it is now. We've got that. That's the way that we need to try and keep it but even in terms of emotionally, I've got such an emotional relationship with nature for what I need, whether it's to be calm down, to be excited, whatever. So yeah, my relationship with nature and plants has grown a lot in the last 10 years. And I'm very thankful for that too. 

Matt Callanan: 

Okay, so last question then. Imagine all your friends and family are down by a nice beach or something looking out to the sky, nice blue sky, and sun shining, and you've hired one of these little planes and it's carrying a long message behind or a short message. These might be your final words of wisdom that you 

want to impart on all your friends and family. What message would be on there? 

Charlotte Church:
Oh, that's a difficult one. 

Matt Callanan:
There's lots of thinking going on here. 

Charlotte Church:
I mean, I've always said... But this is a bit boring. 

Matt Callanan:
Yeah, go with the bore. Let's hear the boring one then. 

Charlotte Church: 

I've always really liked... I think as I spent my youth on planes, that idea of put on your own oxygen mask before helping others really stuck in my mind. Because when I was a kid, I think I always used to think, "Oh, if I had children, that would never happen. I'd never put on my own oxygen mask in a crash situation if I had kids." 

Charlotte Church: 

And I think as you grow older, you start to realize that that's the only thing that you can do is that actually, the only thing that you have control over, that as much as you do want to help other people and you can help other people, you need to go some way towards healing yourself first to be an effective mover and shaker. However, that manifests itself for you. 

Charlotte Church: 

And so I think, to explore yourself, to be growing in self-awareness, to really start to understand who you are, the good and the bad, the shadows, the shit that you've done, the things you regret, the things that you love about yourself as well. Like I give myself a kiss in the mirror all the time. 

Matt Callanan: Really? 

Charlotte Church: 

Yeah, I'm always saying, "Well done, babes. I know it's hard at the moment." Or whatever it might be. I give myself loads of love. And I always have throughout my whole life. I don't know why it was just innate in me to do it. And I think that's why my mental health has stayed pretty consistent. 

Matt Callanan:
Being kind to yourself. 

Charlotte Church: 

Yeah, because it's a lot of the time other people really aren't. And not in a me, myself, and I sort of way because of course, we do all massively rely on each other but just be excellent to yourself as much as you can. But yeah, so it would be put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. And to me, that means something I think about healing, about really being able to look at yourself, look at your past, look at the experiences that you've been through, a lot of which has been at the hands of others, trauma at the hands of others. And doing that deep, hard work of healing yourself to be a kinder human. 

Matt Callanan:
I like it. It's quite a long message for the [crosstalk 00:55:37] 

Charlotte Church: Yeah. 

Matt Callanan:
That's brilliant. Thank you very much, Charlotte Church. It's been amazing. 

Charlotte Church:
Thanks, Matt. It was a lovely chat. 

Matt Callanan:
It was lovely, isn't it? Hurray.