Better with Mark Brand


iHeartRadio is proud to present BETTER—an impact-driven podcast and radio show designed to empower & guide audiences into activating our purpose to build BETTER lives, together. This new show is hosted by Mark Brand, a pioneering chef, global activist and entrepreneur dedicated to ending hunger and creating equitable food systems.

Joining Brand in conversation are some of his friends, fellow frontline workers, highly-respected artists and icons including the legendary singer-songwriter Jann Arden, Order of Canada recipient Dr. Gabor Maté, acclaimed journalist & activist George Stroumboulopoulos, powerhouse advocate Rha Goddess and many other of the globe’s most influential thinkers, artists and leaders all building BETTER lives for the world at large.

  • Tara McGuire - Our overdose crisis

    Tara McGuire is a mother, a steep advocate for change in the fight against overdoses, a former broadcaster, and a powerfully potent writer. Her book “Holden After and Before," gives us an honest insight into her grief, carried from the loss of her son, Holden to the opioid crisis, which Tara points out is better viewed as what it truly is: an overdose crisis. "He died because he made a mistake that day,” she says with heavy compassion for her own loss, and her son's loss, too, "He wasn't trying to die." Holden's overdose at 21 is not an isolated event. Over 35,000 families know their version of her pain from the last five years alone. That's 21 deaths a day. And while the "cause of death," might be marked on paper with the same words, the Cause of Life and the person behind it only exists once. We’re all one of one. That's the love part of the loss. That’s the crisis of One in many. Tara has turned that love for her son into proactive activism. She is now invited to speak to judges with power to change the course of treatment made available to people struggling. In this episode, we talk about the solutions—the life-saving solutions our youth deserve. And Tara drops bars in one of the most special elements of this episode. Through her prose and poetics Tara's gives voice to hope. At the top of Segment 2, we hear her read an excerpt and go into her world as she breathes in the life of her son . All of this takes us to the key emotion driving impactful change: compassion. "We need to find out why people are numbing themselves with these substances at all. Who we’re losing through this overdoes crisis are our most sensitive people." Tara says, "We need to be in the prevention business... we need to provide care instead of punishment." That part.
  • Rick Doblin - Healing through psychedelics

    Rick Doblin is a a psychedelic-assisted psychotherapist and the visionary behind MAPS—the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), a non-profit dedicated to “delivering global healing through psychedelic research.” His research proves how psychedelics heal trauma. Rick started studying the power of psychedelics as medicine just one year before the US government scheduled an emergency ban on psychedelics—and he has continued to work on the frontlines of advocacy for the return of this medicine ever since. In this episode, you’ll hear us talk about the need for deep healing in a society that’s running on fumes. His words on PTSD and what’s possible for even the most complicated of cases brings a depth of hope that anyone with trauma (big t or little) can drop shoulders after listening. The long term effects measured by his clinical trials are there. The safety is there. The need is there. The only thing missing is the regulatory approval and the adaptation for certain psychedelics to move from Schedule I (the highest of offense) to Schedule II, which allows medical use. We also cover the extremes, like balancing a sober life with the use of this medicine— because that’s all it is, medicine—and combining it with therapy. And we catch beautiful quotes like this one: “A lot of the people who are involved in substance abuse problems feel isolated and alone. Part of the antidote to that is to feel that you are connected to this magnificent adventure of billions of years that’s produced life on earth, and to feel that there’s this web of love that’s underneath everything.”
  • Rachel Sumekh - The true heart of advocacy

    Rachel Sumekh was in college when she noticed the problem: her peers are hungry. Then she spotted the solution and moved instantly into action. No flinching here. (You can see why we’re friends.) It didn’t take long for the administration to see her impact before they tried to shut it down. While they moved to block progress, the Obama White House named her organization a “Champion for Change.” What one authority called rebellion, another named Revolution. Same coin, different sides. One truth. In this conversation, Rachel speaks openly about the influence her Iranian-Jewish background has on her experience as a human in service to other humans. You’ll hear us talk about our duty, as people, to help end each other’s suffering. Let’s let that one hang. That’s OUR duty: end each other's suffering. We also explore the chapter-close of her decade-long role as the Founder of Swipe Out Hunger—a national nonprofit committed to ending college student hunger, which is something that went largely overlooked before her eyes and heart took notice—proving once again that it just takes One of us (to start). To date, the team at Swipe Out has proudly served over 4.8 million nourishing meals across more than 450 campuses. “This is a baton pass,” Rachel says mid-interview about leaving Swipe Out in the hands of new leadership. “These problems are so big. I’d need to be the whitest of white men to believe that I need to stay there and solve this problem.” And with THAT truth, the episode is yours. Let’s go.
  • Eamonn Store - Contribution over profit

    Eamonn Store is IN boardrooms changing the hearts, minds, and actions of some of the world's biggest companies. He’s the former CEO of The Guardian and current Founder & CEO of FairShare—an impact consultancy driven by the belief that “making a contribution to the World is no longer just a 'nice to have.'” I call him a board whisper because he has the critical ability to get people in powerful seats to see past greed’s inherent blindness and come to truth. We talk about capitalism’s many side effects—one being what Eamonn calls “addiction to winning,” and then move into how our current climate crisis, among other crises, can all see themselves in the face of this phenomenon. Thankfully, it’s hard-TRUTH-facing conversations like this, with people like Eammon who put action behind their beliefs, that brings us to see what’s most important and most possible: we have to show up for each other. We have to. We have no other choice. Trust, when I say, this conversation brings layers of wisdom about the machine, about community, about change, and our ability to make it—with a lens on what it looks like to live life with a compass of contribution at North.
  • Ernie Paniccioli - Remembering who we are

    Brother Ernie Paniccioli is a legendary hip hop & culture historian, humanitarian, and self-taught photographer who has been ‘documenting the culture since the start.' My first meeting with Brother Ernie was in Vancouver where he said the feeling of being seen—truly seen and known—was more alive because Indigenous people are "everywhere." Unlike in Brooklyn where he grew up eight blocks away from Biggie Smalls. In this conversation, we track the history of hip hop as a global voice—a global power—and how it can teach us to inhabit a consciousness that promotes our collective wellbeing over a collective violence that he says, knowingly, only leads to the perpetuation of more violence. Here's a quote to kick us off, "If you're gonna love Tupac, if you're gonna love Biggie, then you have to look at it through a different lens—and that lens is how do we not hurt each other? How do we not expand on that violence? How do we not relive it? They say, History's best qualified to teach you, whether it's Germany and the Holocaust or the American Native situation. Unless you know your history, you're condemned to repeat it. So, my thing is very simple: let Tupac and Biggie rest in peace, but more importantly, learn from that and learn that violence creates more violence. What you eat, what you see, and what you absorb is what you become," he says before leading us into a list of recommendations to enlighten the mind and lighten the heart. Also, special side note, if you're catching this at the time of air, Brother Ernie's work is currently being displayed at the GRAMMY Museum Experience, at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The feature exhibit is called, “A Hip-Hop Life: Five Decades of Hip-Hop Music, Art and Culture" and displays early & exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos of Hip-Hop legends: Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Naughty By Nature, Lauryn Hill, the Fugees, Ice T, Chuck D, Queen Latifah, and many many more.
  • Z-Trip - Processing life through music

    Zach Sciacca, aka DJ Z-Trip is a conduit for the power of music AND the love of music. He has a history of working alongside the world’s greatest artists including Chuck D & Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, Biz Markie and the list of legends goes on (check the list of WORKS below*)His work showcases the connectivity that music brings us across lifetimes, friendships, memories… Music is one of—if not THE most—transformational tool we have. But when a song gets mashed with another, it transcends everything and becomes something entirely new. THAT power is something Z-Trip has mastered and even pioneered, in the truest sense of the word. Without Z-Trip, the modern-day mash-up doesn’t exist in music. His genius shows up in his ability to simultaneously create containers of celebration & containers of healing—both needed. It IS evolutions in music like this that have helped make me who I am today. What DJ Z-Trip DOES (for a living and for life) honors the past, present, and future all at once. Time is transcended. Feelings are processed. Memories are made and people are remembered. I bring him on today as my dear friend and someone I've been a fan of since before our friendship (shoutout Ant Demby for bringing us together at the Playlist retreat)—and let this stand as a reminder that bigging up your friends is always, always the move.
  • Jennifer Crawford - The Stakes of Authenticity

    Jennifer Crawford is a gender creative queer who I could happily gush about for the entirety of this episode. We first met cooking for an organization called Sistering in Toronto, which does critical work with women and trans people who are predominantly street entrenched and fleeing violence. You’ll hear that story upfront. (I promise, it’s a warm one.) Jennifer is also the first queer winner of MasterChef Canada, and—wait for it—a professional wrestler who goes under the moniker of Moon Miss. BOTH of which make it super easy for us to talk about the inherent multi-dimensionality that comes with being a person (period), and that leads us right into talking about the trauma that first causes any of us to mask, and the secondary trauma that comes from the pain of masking. It’s a lot of uncovering. "There's a lot of peace in learning how your mind works and giving yourself that permission slip to treat the stakes as high as they are. When I think about authenticity, it's not something I think about a lot in terms of like, ‘Oh, am I being authentic?’ I think about the stakes being so high—and they are for so many. It's not just a thing we do for clout online. It is a thing we do to survive, and connect with other people, so that we can thrive together.” - Jennifer Crawford. Take that in. And get ready to feel a whole lot of permission.
  • Yarrow Kraner - The Race Between Consciousness & Catastrophe

    Yarrow Kraner is the founder of HATCH—a global network of innovators and co-conspirators actively doing the work to create a more beautiful, sustainable, and just world (people who Yarrow refers to as “real-life superheroes”). HATCH'S mission is to accelerate solutions to global challenges. The how: by fueling extraordinary humans. The why: to HATCH a better world. Yarrow is a creative alchemist whose heart has the distinct ability to draw people out of a state of self-uncertainty and into a state of self-empowerment—one that has the literal power to change the world. I say that with no fluff. He is, with all sincerity a creative alchemist, builder of community, facilitator of hope, and someone who shows me the truest side of friendship. We have traveled the world together, backpacks on tight, creating safe spaces for people (like you, yes You) to see and discover their ability to make REAL change in this world. Today, you’ll hear him wax poetic like, “There's a race between consciousness and catastrophe.” And speak truth that brings you deeper into the hope we need. This one IS that: “You are either tapped into what you're meant to do in the world, or you have the potential to.” This one goes out to all of us.