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Field Notes

Religion & Spirituality Podcas

Field Notes explores the themes of conservation and hope through a wide lens. Our guests include a moth-er, a wine theologian, Hebrew scholar, an environmental historian and a linguistic philosopher among others. Soundtrack – Jill Phillips & Andy Gullahorn: ‘Only Say the Word’ (instrumental track) from the album ‘The Good Things.’ Used with kind permission. –


United Kingdom


Field Notes explores the themes of conservation and hope through a wide lens. Our guests include a moth-er, a wine theologian, Hebrew scholar, an environmental historian and a linguistic philosopher among others. Soundtrack – Jill Phillips & Andy Gullahorn: ‘Only Say the Word’ (instrumental track) from the album ‘The Good Things.’ Used with kind permission. –



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Ep 43: Caroline Pomeroy – Stewarding the climate in turbulent times

Is carbon offsetting just something to make us feel a bit better about our climate-harming behaviours? How does it actually work and is there good science behind the numbers? Caroline leads Climate Stewards, one of the organizations in the A Rocha family. She talks us through the principle of the downward spiral underlying their measure, reduce, offset process and tells some captivating stories which bring to life the wholistic benefits of offsetting to habitats, species and human communities.


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Ep 42: Cristina Jakob – When loving nature becomes a life

Raised in Southern Chile in a family of farmers, teachers and pastors, Cristina never realized how all those areas could be linked with God's purposes to bring redemption to all his creatures. For most of her life, she worked as a staff member in a church in the big city, leaving her love for nature for holidays. In this delightful conversation, she shares the story of how some unexpected friendships and an internship with A Rocha Canada gave her a new purpose and a community. She co-founded the organization Fundación Retoño, where people can meet around a table and share their struggles and hopes, cook delicious local foods, work the land and walk the woods, figuring out how to protect and care for the piece of land they’ve been given.


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Ep 41: Abby Simonin & Carly Richardson – the fellowship of farm & food

Most of us live largely disconnected from the production of our food, but whether or not we give it much thought, each mealtime puts us in relationship with our fellow creatures, the soil, the air and the water. Abby and Carly are farmers at A Rocha Canada’s Brooksdale, BC site. They tell us why a conservation organization grows, eats and gives away so much food, why they love to welcome inexperienced helpers who often slow them down, and what the rhythms of the seasons have taught them about living well. You might just find they make you want to pull on some muddy boots and head into the nearest field to get stuck in!


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Ep 40: Rui Lino-Ramalho – Why conservation is best (and most joyfully) done in community

In 2023, Rui, his wife Debora, and their two young children moved their life from a campervan to Cruzinha, A Rocha Portugal’s field study centre in the Algarve. It is hard to imagine a more radical change but it is one their family has embraced wholeheartedly and with delight, notwithstanding the challenges. In this honest and inspiring conversation, Rui tells stories and reflects on how it feels to live in a home with a constantly changing array of people, united by a common love and concern for the natural world.


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Ep 39: Kuki Rokhum – An inconvenient challenge to the Church

More and more Christians acknowledge God’s call to care for his creation, and yet resist taking action. Kuki has preached, taught and written on creation care to audiences around the world for decades, and believes the main barrier is our love of convenience. From Mizoram in North East India and recently appointed as A Rocha International’s first Director of Church Engagement, she tells us about her hopes for the role and what spurs her on despite the challenges.


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Ep 38: Federica Marsi – a cynical journalist finds redemption at the Kenyan coast

Federica Marsi is a multi-lingual freelance journalist who has filed dozens of hard-hitting reports from everywhere from Tunisia to Lebanon, Jordan to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Federica’s life and career were going well and then lockdown happened and everything was taken away. Here she shares her remarkable story about what happened next, and how she left her flat in Milan on an improbable journey to Kenya which eventually leads to A Rocha and Mwamba, its field study centre on the Indian Ocean. A non-believer, Federica not only discovers the wonders of Kenya’s breath-taking land and seascapes and lush wildlife but is challenged in everything she has ever believed before.


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Ep 37: Sara Kaweesa – a heart for creation care in a context of suffering

Uganda is known for the beauty and diversity of its landscape, encompassing as it does the enormous Lake Victoria and the snowy peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains. It is a land of contrast, with lush gardens full of tropical fruit and vegetables for the table, while families scrabble around for food. Wildlife in abundance attracting a thriving tourist industry, but local children grow up having never seen an elephant. Uganda has the world’s youngest population with over half of children under four living in poverty and some families only eating every other day. This complex and dynamic country provides many challenges for A Rocha Uganda as they try to balance the desperate needs of poor communities alongside their vision to always care for God’s creation. Dr Sara Kaweesa, is the founder of A Rocha Uganda and for the last 15 years has been its National Director. She opens up about being accepted as a young female leader in a conservative culture, alongside the immense challenges of educating communities about conservation care, while providing for heartrending needs. As this was recorded in Kampala the sound quality isn't always ideal, but we know you'll be inspired regardless.


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Ep 36: Leah Kostamo – How nature both hurts and heals poor mental health

Nature is under enormous stress. It is almost impossible to turn a blind eye to the impact of our over consuming, polluting, degrading way of living on this planet. Fewer birds sing in sadder looking trees, under skies either delivering a month of rain in an hour or frighteningly blue day after day. If you are one of the many struggling with Eco Anxiety, this conversation with Leah Kostamo will be a source of help, hope and comfort. Leah is Co Founder and Spiritual Care Coordinator of A Rocha Canada. Having recently completed a Masters degree in counseling she now also works part-time as a psychotherapist. She speaks from a place of both personal and professional wisdom about the path to healing in this broken and beautiful world.


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Ep 35: Ed Walker – Meet A Rocha's new Executive Director

As the first day of 2023 dawned, Ed could not have known that by September he’d accept God’s calling to ‘sing a new song’ and be leading a global conservation organization he had barely heard of. With a history of walking towards crises, whether war, famine, or homelessness, perhaps it is unsurprising he was willing to face into the rather overwhelming disaster of biodiversity loss and join the A Rocha family at this precarious moment for the world. Ed is someone with great vision, energy and integrity - and some hair raising stories! We know you will enjoy his company in this episode of Field Notes, as we did.


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Ep 34: Peter Harris – Milestones, miracles and migration

A Rocha's cofounders Peter and Miranda Harris were in their early thirties when they identified the collapse of the biosphere as the issue of our times and decided to give their lives to that cause. With a big vision, next to no resources, and in a context of skepticism and apathy, they and their three small children moved to Portugal in 1983 together with another family, Les and Wendy Batty, and their two daughters. 40 years later, A Rocha's commitments and character are the same, expressed in a multitude of creatively contextualised forms around the world. And the biosphere is in severe crisis. How do we live with our smallness and the scale of the problems? What part can we play in God’s restoration of the world and what can only God fix now? If you have wrestled with these questions, we are sure you will find this conversation a source of deep comfort and inspiration. To discover more of A Rocha's story, you might enjoy Peter's books, Under the Bright Wings and Kingfisher's Fire, and Miranda's book, cowritten with Jo, A Place at the Table.


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Ep 33: Godwin Evenyo Dzekoto – collaborative conservation and why humans can be both the problem & the solution

It is the poorest of this world who suffer the worst impacts of biodiversity loss and climate change. But we'd be wrong to think the vulnerable are passive in suffering and without agency or hope. This is a conversation that will leave you in awe of human resilience and the goodness of God in spite of the painful reality. Godwin leads A Rocha Ghana’s work in the north of the country, in and around Mole National Park. The Savannah Region is a beautiful but harsh landscape and severely economically deprived. A Rocha has helped local communities see that their survival is dependent on the well-being of the entire ecosystem, and the choices they make today have consequences that will play out for better or worse in times to come. And together, they are working for a better future for all.


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Ep 32: Prarthini Selveindran - Reading the world with wonder

Do you ever find you have walked for several minutes without any awareness of your surroundings? Particularly in cities, where our senses can be overloaded, we can block out much of what is going on around us. Prarthi has always lived in urban environments so her early love of nature was fuelled by nature shows on TV rather than direct experience. But she’s learnt to be attentive, to live with a posture of curiosity and playfulness, and to learn from the book of nature. As you listen to Prarthi we think you will be inspired to do the same. We were. Prarthi really loves amphibians and reptiles—being particularly passionate about frogs and snakes. She spent most of her student life studying these (and many other) fascinating creatures and bio-systems. Her ecological learning was made all the richer during her service within the Varsity Christian Fellowship where she grew to see that earth-keeping is something God is concerned with. She is currently a Head of Ministry with the Fellowship of Evangelical Students (FES) Singapore. She also volunteers with A Rocha International and is co-editor of the book 'God's Gardeners: Creation Care Stories from Singapore and Malaysia', published as part of her work with Friends of A Rocha in Singapore.


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Ep 31: Gustavo H. R. Santos – Redefining success and introducing the A Rocha Conservation Certificate

Originally from Brazil, Gustavo draws on his previous experience coming from the business sector to the nonprofit world and challenges us to rethink how we measure success. Rather than continuous growth as the usual marker for achievement, Gustavo shares insights on what living out his Christian faith looks like and how that helps him redefine success. He describes a different way— the A Rocha way, which involves working with vulnerable places and communities, committing to deeper relationships, and learning that contentment is one of the fruits of wisdom. Gustavo also introduces the A Rocha Conservation Certificate and explains how this pioneering program will expand conservation opportunities beyond just science and conservation professionals, to make conservation more accessible for people in all professions and walks of life. Click here to learn more about A Rocha’s Conservation Certificate. Gustavo H. R. Santos serves as a Co-Chair of the A Rocha Worldwide Family Strategic Direction Working Group and as Content Developer for the Conservation Certificate. Born and raised in Brazil, he merges experiences in the corporate and nonprofit sectors and currently lives at the A Rocha Brooksdale Center with his wife Andrea, and their dog, Mokha.


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Ep 30: Avinash Krishnan – Deep roots, long trunks: a lifelong commitment to making peace with Indian elephants

India has 1.4 billion people and 29 thousand elephants living in a multiple use landscape. Avinash Krishnan has dedicated over half of his life to making peace between these two populations. Now its National Director, Avinash was first a volunteer in his student days, helping with a large scale elephant counting exercise (involving dung and complex mathematical formulas!). He has seen some of his efforts make significant impact and has also experienced discouragement and great sadness, such as the time one particular elephant he'd been closely studying for nine years have an accident and die from his injuries. But he has never lost his hope or his love for the natural world, and especially Bannerghatta National Park and its people, plants and living creatures.


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Ep 29: Dave Bookless – Conviction, courage, and the changing church

Many of us have felt our consciences pricked in the midst of doing something we know is harming the natural world. But few have thrown their lives into upheaval in the way Dave Bookless did having chucked a few bags of rubbish off a cliff at the end of a holiday. Twenty five years later, everything from Dave's job to the food on his family's table had changed. He founded A Rocha UK, wrote some influential books, got a PhD, became Director of Theology and Churches for A Rocha International and has spoken to Christians from over 100 countries about God's heart for all he has made. In that time life on earth has thinned dramatically and climate conditions become much worse but Dave has seen the church change and he is hopeful - hopeful because the body of Christ is a force to be reckoned with, and because God's love and faithfulness is eternal and unchanging.


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Ep 28: Judith Ochieng – How digitising data about nature can change the world

If you have never heard of GBIF (the Global Biodiversity Information Facility) you are not the only one, but after this conversation you will be glad to have discovered it. Funded by the world's governments and free to access, this global network and data infrastructure is used to inform endeavours tackling everything from farming and food security, to disease control, to habitat restoration planning and so much more. Judith Ochieng is a Kenyan scientist who has spent the past three years coordinating a project to digitise data from four forested landscapes in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda, a partnership of 11 organisations. She speaks articulately and passionately about how the importance of information-based decision making, especially when it comes to conservation, and shares how her faith keeps her grounded and hopeful when the data so often paints a disheartening picture.


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Ep 27: Guillaume de Vaulx & Nabil Shehadi – Prophetic acts of hope on Lebanese soil

Hope is sometimes understood as a feeling of optimism, but as we all know, feelings are transitory and not a rock on which to build a life. What if we instead understood hope as a practice, an active way of living? Lebanon has a turbulent history, a troubled present and an unknown future and A Rocha Lebanon has had its own traumas, not least the death of its founders, Chris & Susanna Naylor, in a car accident in 2019. In this episode of Field Notes, A Rocha Lebanon’s new co-director Guillaume and chair of the board Nabil reflect on the small-scale but tenacious and resilient story of their work to restore a piece of communal land in the town of Mekse, once a dumping ground for burnt out Syrian tanks, for the good of all. As Nabil puts it, “We’re not a big organization. But with the Lord’s help we can do big things.” Guillaume de Vaulx shares the role of National Director of A Rocha Lebanon with Damien Kasper. A French national, he comes from a background in academic philosophy. Nabil Shehadi is Alpha levant coordinator and became chair of the A Rocha Lebanon board in 2022. The story of A Rocha Lebanon’s beginnings and early years is told in the book, “Postcards from the Middle East” by Chris Naylor. For more information about what is going on these days please visit


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Ep 26: Christine Warner – Learning from the snail: joyful living within painful limitations

Beauty and suffering coexist in this world. There are breath-taking mountains and devastating volcanoes; healthy children and children born with acute medical challenges; birds that sing in war torn countries. How do we endure suffering and retain awareness of the beauty that surrounds us? Christine Warner loves snails. Since surviving an encounter with a truck which by all accounts should have ended her life instantly, snails have been an inspiration. During her long, slow recovery, she has learnt to find joy through embracing life within new limitations. This is a raw and moving conversation which we hope you will find a profound encouragement whatever your circumstances. Christine Warner grew up in Central America during civil war and natural disasters. She is the Director for the Matthew 25 Initiative, the Anglican efforts to companion the vulnerable, marginalized, and under-resourced communities in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Christine is a trustee of A Rocha International and lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and their four children.


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Ep 25: Jo Swinney – Finding A Place at the Table and a heart for hospitality

At a time when social distancing and virtual working have become the norm, a new book invites us to rethink our connections to each other, the earth, God, and community. Co-written from A Rocha co-founder Miranda Harris and her daughter, Jo Swinney, A Rocha’s Director of Communications, A Place at the Table explores a philosophy baked into the A Rocha family since the very beginning — hospitality. After her mother’s sudden death in a car accident in 2019, Jo was resolute in getting her mother’s words into the hands of readers. Miranda Harris’s journal entries can be seen along her daughter’s writing in A Place at the Table—her words and her life serve as inspiration for not only the book but all who met Miranda and knew her generous spirit and love of community. Pull up a chair (and a hearty appetite and some snacks) and take a seat at the table. You just might be encouraged to call an old friend for coffee, host a family dinner, or start a new culinary tradition. Jo Swinney is a writer, speaker, editor and Director of Communications for A Rocha—the international Christian environmental conservation charity founded by her father and her late mother, Miranda Harris, who co-authors A Place At the Table. Jo is author of eight books and a regular contributor to many Christian publications in the UK and elsewhere. Jo inherited her mother’s love of hospitality, food, and the God from whom all good gifts come. She lives in Bath, UK, with her husband and two daughters and is often found reading, planning holidays and making food for friends. Jo has a BA from Birmingham University in English Literature and African Studies and an MA from Regent College, Vancouver in Theology.


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Ep 24: Soohwan Park – Sustainable activism and the prayer-driven life

How do we sustain our physical, mental and spiritual health when we are expending ourselves for justice? How can we face the reality of the world's problems and not be crushed? Soohwan has spent much of her working life up close and personal with suffering on a scale most of us only see on a TV screen. From the Dalit of Bangladesh to the fall out of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, she's spent significant time in places and with people facing severe challenge. In an airport one day she was struck by the dead expression in the eyes of many of older fellow travellers and knew she didn't want to turn into them one day, so she quit her job and turned her attention to the task of prayer. A Rocha International is blessed to have her as its prayerful board chair.