Introducing Sharing Things, the new podcast where cherished objects spark engaging discussions.
Over the past few weeks a new student-produced podcast from the Alumni Relations team at the University has been bringing together Edinburgh staff, students and alumni for weekly chats about everything from internet wormholes to dangerous women. Now the full series is available to listen to and enjoy by all.
The word ‘community’ is used a lot at the University. A community of students. A lifelong community. A vibrant academic community. Community engagement. Global community. Edinburgh community. But what do these hopeful expressions of togetherness actually mean, and how can we foster greater understanding through the idea of community?
This was the question that led to the creation of the podcast Sharing Things.
Amalie Sortland, a final-year politics undergraduate from Norway who hosts Sharing Things, explains the concept: “The podcast is our very own take on the ‘show and tell’ game, with the added twist that we make two members of the University community, be that staff, students or alumni, tell each other about the stories attached to an object that they bring to the conversation.”
Over the course of the nine-part series, the final episode of which was released earlier this month, Amalie has chatted with a different pair of community members each week in the University’s podcast studio. This relaxed and friendly environment has been an ideal setting for guests to share their treasured or significant objects and allow the conversation to flow and grow organically from there, often in funny, moving and unexpected ways.
“We were already talking about podcasting. The format felt interesting and the informal, anything-goes vibe got us thinking about the possibilities that this could open up,” explains Sonia Mullineux, Head of Alumni Communications.
“Sharing Things is a conversation. It isn’t an interview,” continues Sonia. “To understand community, we wanted to give our guests the freedom to be themselves and talk about anything. Edinburgh features, but it is a common thread that dances its way through different experiences and different perspectives, rather than a booming voice that dominates and obscures all else.”
Listen to the Sharing Things teaser
Now meet the guests
There is something powerful, but also very comforting, about the voices that combine in the first season of Sharing Things. So who do these voices belong to and what do they have to say?
Prince and Kezia
Medicinal and biological chemistry student Prince Chakanyuka and Director of the John Smith Centre for Public Service, Kezia Dugdale, talk about staple diets, bringing diversity to politics, the late campaigner and alumnus Gordon Aikman, childhood and more.
I find here, every time I need to buy something I have to walk into a literal store and I've never done that with vegetables. I effectively started buying vegetables in stores when I came to the UK.
I don't think we give young people enough time to really think about who they are and what it is that they want to be.
Lori and Russell
Scottish ethnology lecturer Lori Watson and Edinburgh-based writer and editor Russell Jones talk about Fringe coping strategies, pretty dogs, sci-fi nights, creative juices, video games and fish funerals. We also get a fiddle performance, on-the-spot interpretations and a small poetry recital.
I always have a last-minute panic that there won't be a bow in the case, every time.
Cartoons, and particularly video games, are one of the greatest art mediums because they can incorporate all this stuff: the visual, the written words, the music.
Rosie and Melanie
Biology student and LGBT+ Officer Rosie Taylor chats to journalist Melanie Reid, author of the Spinal Column in The Times, about poetry, animals, empowerment, countering that inner critic, hardship and more.
I got so much from coming to university and being surrounded by people who were like, 'just do you'.
You see yourself walking round corners, you glimpse yourself in the distance when you’re back in your old university town.
Beth and Udita
Outdoor environmental and sustainability education lecturer Beth Christie and technology innovation expert Udita Banerjee talk about adventure, creativity, role models and women in leadership positions.
The reason why I run so much is because it’s about understanding the place in which I live.
I came with an address on a Post-it and now I have friends, I met my partner here, I have like a whole community of people.
Srishti and Abrisham
Author Srishti Chaudhary and classics student Abrisham Ahmadzadeh talk about writing, creativity, dangerous women, bucket lists and more.
It's hard sometimes to capture an experience in English because it would be so typically Indian for me that maybe the language cannot capture it well enough as the language there could.
Women with great status and ability to do stuff and challenge people, and with the power to make a difference, are being brandished as ‘dangerous’ as if they're a threat in some way.
Anne and Hadrien
Anne Miller, a producer of the BBC quiz show QI, and Hadrien Espiard, co-president of Edinburgh University North American Society, talk about must-dos in Edinburgh, Starbucks and the CIA, internet wormholes, weird knowledge and more.
We've all got slightly magpie brains... it's not like you shut your brain off then at nine o'clock you’re like, ‘right, time to find a fact’.
What I find really interesting is the fact that the solution to a technology problem, which is that people are inundated with facts, is to go back to old books that no one opens.
Geoff and David
Brewing pioneer and human rights activist Geoff Palmer met president of the Edinburgh University Alumni Club of Washington DC, David Gray, to discuss Scottish-Caribbean relations, beer and a changing Edinburgh.
I sent for the Jamaica telephone directory and when it arrived in 2007, I was very surprised about 70 per cent of the surnames in it are Scottish. You know, there are 2,500 Campbells in the Jamaica telephone directory.
Now it's about managing your life and the career will change 10 times. Every few years you'll be able to jump and change job, maybe even change career... how exciting!
Martha and Julia
Architecture alumna Martha Greenbank and snow-loving Canadian lecturer Julia Calvert talk about patchwork quilts, maple syrup feuds, horror movies, spoilers, being robbed and more.
I'm totally fine with spoilers but I get so much abuse for that.
I had two options: one was lock myself in the bathroom, and, you know, just let him have my stuff and prioritise personal safety, but I took the second option, which was to throw my toothbrush at him... and chase him.
Beth and Catherine
Beth Fellows, Vice President of Activities and Services for Edinburgh University Students’ Association, and Catherine Wilson, poet, writer and performer, talk about winning, empowerment, challenges and more.
I was in a complete blind panic, and then obviously it got announced and I burst into tears, and I'm not a crier at all.
I’m an anxious little bean just trying to make my way in the world and can be so afraid to ask for anything and would rather die than make a fuss.
Connecting the community
What becomes clear over the series is how much people can learn from one another and how much people can relate to one another, given the opportunity. “What we learnt is that community, in its broadest sense, is human connection and interaction,” says Sonia.
It's a sentiment echoed by Amalie. “This podcast humanises people in the University community and will remind people that we are one big community – being an Edinburgh person is special and we all have that in common,” she says. “We really hope that actually listening to people in the community will enhance a sense of interconnectivity and promote a feeling of belonging. It’s great that we can get to know each other better!”