“If there was ever a time for fresh thinking, for being bold, for being visionary and imaginative – for reimagining everything – this is it,” writes Rob Hopkins in his introduction to his new podcast From What If to What Next. Absolutely, yes! Launched in April 2020, one month into the UK’s lockdown, Hopkins’ podcast is a follow-up to his book From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want. (See Hopkins’ article What If… in Issue 317.) Having already established that our imagination has the power to tell new stories and generate new solutions for a better life for everyone, Hopkins takes the next logical step with this podcast: imagining the way forward, and then – and this is just as important – taking the next steps to make it happen.

Hopkins’ Patreon supporters pose the What If...? questions, and he finds the two best guests to imagine the answers. Each episode starts in the same way. After an introduction, we are all invited to take a moment to imagine the future. “I’d like to invite you to get comfortable and to close your eyes…” Hopkins begins. “I’d like you to imagine yourselves 10 years forward in the future, and you’re arriving in a time where everything that could possibly have been done in the past 10 years has been done. It’s not utopia but it’s been a remarkable transition and one that felt completely unimaginable in 2020…”

If your cynicism klaxon has been triggered, disable it immediately; otherwise you will miss some of the most exciting thinking and achievable solutions being pioneered right now in the UK and around the world. The episode on relocalising food production had me punching the air with joy midway through hanging up the washing. Someone please make Dee Woods, “food and farming action-ist”, the Defra minister. She is making organic food available to disadvantaged black and minority ethnic communities in London and is quite frankly brilliant. Each episode ends with information on further reading and ideas on how to take action yourself.

Other topics covered so far include ‘What if birdsong drowned out the traffic?’ (featuring Resurgence & Ecologist contributor Mya-Rose Craig) and ‘What if a Universal Basic Income sparked a revival of the imagination?’ The podcasts are released every two weeks. However, Hopkins’ Patreon supporters also receive exclusive access to the Ministry of the Imagination podcasts and additional goodies such as fascinating interviews with David Holmgren, co-founder of the permaculture movement, and Tom Rivett-Carnac of Global Optimism.

Hopkins’ previous podcasts included interviews he conducted for his book From What Is to What If, which he generously released with minimal editing as audio-notes. The What if…? series is much easier to listen to, and is very well structured and researched. The sound quality is sometimes not perfect – an inevitable part of podcasting via Zoom, I suspect – but I quickly stopped noticing, as Hopkins’ humble and knowledgeable line of questioning draws out some of the most inspiring and upbeat information I’ve heard for ages. Not bad during the time of Covid-19. I confidently await the eventual launch of his next book, From What If to What Next, in the near future. Meanwhile I have some new ideas to implement in my own life.

Rachel Marsh designs Resurgence & Ecologist magazine and is a podcast addict.