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Barry O'Kane

Barry is driven by the belief that the power of software must be used for good, and that requires deep values, honesty and a holistic approach. Barry has over 20 years in the digital industry as a programmer and entrepreneur.

He founded HappyPorch in 2014 - a remote-first software engineering consultancy. HappyPorch believe technology, crafted with care, has the power to create positive change and address climate breakdown, social inequality and biodiversity loss. To achieve this, they're dedicated to creating an equitable circular economy.

He started HappyPorch Radio as a way to explore these topics and share conversations with amazing people.

Emily Swaddle

Emily has been co-hosting HappyPorch Radio since season 5 in 2020. 

Alongside HPR, Emily also co-hosts The Carbon Removal Show and is creating a new podcast about rest… watch this space! She also works as a Personal Development Coach, and a Trainer for Impact Forecast, helping startup businesses to measure their climate impact. And sometimes she likes to leave her computer behind and go swimming in a wild river, camping under the stars and singing around a campfire. 

Follow her adventures on  Instagram.

Listen to the episode

Tune in to find out more about:


  • An overview of our last two seasons focused on the circular economy and how they tie into season 7.
  • Expectations for Season 7.
  • The focus on guests who are helping others to make circularity happen, whether through consultancy, advice, agency work, or education and training.
  • High-level conversations that give themes and patterns but also tie back to concrete examples.
  • How Circular Economy can be interpreted as a broad term that covers a mindset or approach rather than a niche.
  • How systemic thinking can be turned into action by supporting, educating, or training others and getting involved in projects.
  • Why it is important to move towards genuine systemic change rather than just focusing on small, isolated actions.
  • How the hosts are excited to explore The ways that circularity helps tackle big problems like climate change, waste, biodiversity loss, and species collapse.
  • How we are looking forward to our incredible guests, their insights, and the valuable lessons we can all apply to our work, companies, careers, and lives.
  • And much more!


S7E1 Audiogram image

Emily Swaddle  00:09

Hello and welcome back to HappyPorch Radio. Here we are for a new season, season seven of HappyPorch Radio and we're about to kick off, we're about to get started. So, I think it's time that me and Barry, I think we ought to sit down and we talk about this, where we're at, where we're coming from and where we're going. How are you feeling, Barry?


Barry O'Kane  00:27

Feeling pretty good. What is season seven? That's the question, I guess. It's really fun exploring the Circular Economy and we've done two seasons on very different varied things and it's really quite exciting to be, we've had a bit of a hiatus between last season and this one, so we're back in action!


Emily Swaddle  00:46

Re-energized and finding new inspiration to learn more about the Circular Economy. So we, as you say, we've done two seasons already around sort of Circular Economy things, different perspectives, look at the Circular Economy. Looking back on those two seasons, how do you feel about them? How do you feel sort of coming at this Circular Economy thing, now that we've had these two seasons.


Barry O'Kane  01:08

It's really interesting. Actually, there's a feel like the last couple of years, this may be sort of self selected my own bias of the world and the audience and the places I move, but we're seeing more and more excitement, and more and more action in Circular Economy. And so I think that's been reflected a little bit in the two seasons, we've done the first season was a broad, a conversation with multiple different businesses, different types of businesses doing technology products, and Circular Economy work, which was fascinating, and kind of really helped set the scene, I guess and learn a little bit. And then last year, we did Circular Economy in Africa, which is a very grandiose and term because that's, you know, it's like a massive continent with a huge area. But we definitely had some amazing conversations there again, but it was completely different context. So I feel like those are very different and distinct two types of conversations we had, which have been really enjoyable, and that we're planning now sort of a different one again.


Emily Swaddle  02:07

Yeah, it's like there's a sort of a voice in my head thinking, another Circular Economy thing, like where do we have enough juice for all of this? And then as you say, it feels like, there's more and more going on. And there's more and more stuff to talk about. And there's more and more activity around Circular Economy. And what's more, like every time we've had conversations in the past, we always say the thing of "oh, we could just keep talking for another hour". So another show of material, really. So, Barry, tell our listeners what to expect with season seven, where are we going?


Barry O'Kane  02:36

So Season seven is stepping out away from the coalface, if you like. The last two seasons, we talk to businesses doing very concrete real world things and now and our hope is for season seven, we're kind of talking more and more to the people who are assisting others, whether that's in terms of consultancy, advice type work, or whether it's agency sort of driving design and innovation type work, whether it's educational and training, but the sort of the fundamental, the support to people, the people who are helping others to really make circularity happen. That's the hope anyway, and that we can kind of do this really high level conversations that give us themes and patterns, but also tie that back to some of the reality and the concrete that we've had in previous seasons.


Emily Swaddle  03:23

That idea of like zooming out, and not just being because actually I really loved those conversations where we get into the detail of like, what are you doing in your specific environment, with your specific system to you know, promote circularity and build a circular system. And that's been really interesting and you'd get into like, the minutiae of things. But to zoom out, which we've done a little bit in some of the past seasons, when we've talked to people who, you know, run networks or like, bigger organisations or something, but to zoom out really far and talk to people who are not, as you say, like at the coalface, they're not on the ground, sort of doing that small, detailed stuff, they're at a level of support, they're at a sort of external level to it, that I think is going to give us a really interesting perspective. And it's great that there's these people who are consultants or advisors, as you say, but they are actually specifically, you know, they're in this niche of the Circular Economy. And yeah, that probably means they're like experts, and we're gonna get to pick their brains which is great.


Barry O'Kane  04:31

Yeah, definitely. It's always good to literally one of the amazing people that we have the honor of joining us on the podcast, it's just, it always blows me away how much passion and energy there is. There is something to what you just said or sort of maybe challenging a little bit of something you just said, I had a conversation really interesting conversation with somebody recently about how the Circular Economy becomes or this kind of mindset becomes like a lens that you see everything. And so more and more like the Circular Economy is this broad umbrella term that covers a sort of mindset or approach. It's not a niche in the same way as a certain sort of vertical niche, or a sector or type of technology or type of business. And, and so actually, it's quite difficult not to see everything in Circular Economy terms, when particularly when we start thinking about, Okay, well, everything we do in modern society has, involves products and physical things. And they're all made, and they're all have complex web of supply chains and things behind them, and a sourcing of things. And then we're owning or using, or, or temporarily owning, or operating things, you know, it basically becomes almost too high and too theoretical. And to sort of all this has everything in the world. But what's interesting, I hope about the kind of people that we're planning to speak to is, they are turning that sort of systemic thinking into action by working out how to support others, or educate others or train or actually get involved in projects. And so I feel like maybe we can explore a little bit of that journey of going from this very conceptual, vague, ikan, economy type language. And then very specifically, examples of businesses doing real concrete things. But then what's the patterns in the things that are joining those together and allowing us maybe to move from, to move towards genuine systemic change? And rather than the small, tiny things that often feel like, well, they're very isolated, but what's the systemic change that can really lead us to the exciting opportunities that I think we, when we talk about Circular Economy that we're looking for.


Emily Swaddle  04:31

Yeah, I think you're right, with the idea of it being a lens through which you see sort of everything, it's kind of like, you know, the matrix, we can do like the blue pill or the black pill and it's like, you've taken the pill, you can never unsee it, you know, and then it just becomes a part of how you see the world and how you experience the world, and how you interact with the world. Yeah, I totally see that. So, as we move into season seven of HappyPorch Radio, maybe we should say, actually, if there's anybody who's listening, who is really interested, but actually a bit lost, and not really sure what we mean, when we talk about Circular Economy and sort of the definition of that, I suppose we're not going to go into that in this season. We've done it in seasons five and six, both, I think so if you're listening in a bit, sort of questioning what Circular Economy even is, go back to season five, have a listen. You'll love it, and then listen to season six, you'll love that as well. And then you can come back and listen here because we won't really be going into like those definitions so much. But what are you most excited about? Or most looking forward to as we go into this season seven, Barry?


Barry O'Kane  07:44

So many things. The real exciting thing for me is touching on what we were saying there about systemic change. I talk a lot about the big problems we're facing. Climate change, waste, biodiversity loss, species collapse, you know, there's all these big scary sounding problems. What is exciting is when we can flip the conversation around to say, well, what are the things that we're doing? What's the not just to, okay, there's a problem, major problems that need fix. What kind of society do we want to create? What's the positive? What's the vision for where we're going? And when we speak to people who are working on this systemic level change day to day, they're often talking and seeing, you know, they're driving towards something, and multiple different things. So that's the part that I'm excited about. We don't need to obsess about problems. We're not ignoring the problems, but like, what's the opportunities and exciting things that can help us do more than solve, or more than slightly salve the problems that we're facing? I think that's the part that I'm excited about.


Emily Swaddle  08:48

Yeah, nice. I think I'm sort of excited about the same thing. And also, you know, I've spoken about hope before when we've talked about Circular Economy. And that's sort of what I hear when you say, looking at the solutions and looking at, like, where we can go, rather than focusing on these big problems is the idea of like, there is hope. And we can like see it through all the clouds of despair, when we talk to people who are working on these solutions. And I think what I'm most excited about for season seven, in particular, is that we're going to be talking to people who have a bit more of an overview of this like whole system, and the whole movement. And that sense of like we're doing something collective, we're doing, we're making things happen as a movement. That really is exciting to me. So I'm looking forward to hearing more about that and how we can, maybe how we can all contribute to it, but also just like what's out there, what's going on? What's the big picture? Think it's going to be great.


Barry O'Kane  09:46

Yeah, yeah, there's a fascinating book I am in the process of reading at the moment written by Conrad and Jon Alexander, which is about- the book is called "Citizens" and why the key to fixing everything is all of us which I think is a really- I will link to that because I think there's some really fascinating things there and exactly what you're describing. So the core of his argument is that we need to move from a consumer mindset where just things happen to us, you know, we're kind of, we buy things, and we're in this just consuming too much more engaged and involved. And we have agency and we're sort of empowered and allowed. And in fact, it's, it's good to be involved in, in society in the broadest sense, whatever that means, and what he calls out the "Citizens story". And I think that's exactly what we can do start to really explore with this season is- It's not the economy in our world on our lives isn't something that has happened to us, what are the exciting opportunities and ways that we can be positively involved in an exciting positive change. And to do that we need to understand, right, so we need to, and that's what's exciting by these amazing people who are doing this work, we can learn from them, we can see the things that they're doing. And then we can try and bring those things to our work, our companies, our careers and our lives. And from my particular lens, the thing that I'm excited about, or driven about is we all have professional skills, or businesses that have particular talents and strengths. So what are the ways that those things can be leveraged to be really beneficial? And how can we get engaged instead of just passively saying, hey, these things are happening to us? What's our citizens story?


Emily Swaddle  11:29

Nice, really nice. Yeah, I mean, as humans, you know, we're like collective creatures. We want to be part of something and what better thing to be part of, you know, this wonderful Circular Economy experiment.


Barry O'Kane  11:41

So yeah, that's pretty exciting. That's, let's get on with it. Looking forward to season seven coming out in a few weeks.


Emily Swaddle  11:46

Can't wait to dive in. Let's do it. Thank you for listening to this episode of HappyPorch Radio. You can find past episodes, transcripts, and show notes at You can also get in touch with us there and let us know what you think. Or if you have any ideas or comments, please rate the podcast, share and subscribe so that more people can find the show.


Barry O'Kane  12:11

Thanks for listening. My name is Barry O'Kane. I founded HappyPorch who fund and support this podcast. At HappyPorch we do technology and software development for purpose led businesses and we're particularly excited about the role of digital as an enabler for the Circular Economy. If you're working on solutions to the big problems we face today, problems like climate change, biodiversity loss, and global inequality then let's connect. Visit and get in touch.


Emily Swaddle  12:33

And I'm Emily Swaddle, podcaster, coach, facilitator and storyteller. You can find me on my other podcast, "The carbon removal show" and you can find out more about that project and everything else I do at  where you can also subscribe to my newsletter "All about rest". If you're interested in anything I do, feel free to connect. You can email me on [email protected]