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Connection to Country with Leanne Sanders of Visual Dreaming

“I’ve heard so many no’s. So many no’s, because it’s not the normal business model and evidence of best practice is a really big thing when it comes to funding and stuff. And for me, it’s like, well I’m working with elders and I have over 60,000 years of cultural knowledge, we know what’s best practice.

— Leanne Sanders, founder of Visual Dreaming

In this episode

Meet new SheEO Venture Visual Dreaming! Founder Leanne Sanders joins Vicki Saunders to talk about her app Visual Dreaming, and what led her to this journey and goal of creating a better life for future generations.

They also discuss:

  • The need for better ways to support people with mental health
  • Her personal stories and motivations of why we need to transform how we engage
  • Using cultural practices to connect care
  • The importance of connection to country
  • Shifts since COVID, and reframing how we look after each other
  • New features of the app and what’s to come
  • Challenges of finding a values-aligned revenue model

We invite you to join us as an Activator at SheEO.World.

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Podcast Transcript:

The podcast is being transcribed by Otter.ai. (there may be errors, run-on sentences and misspellings).

Leanne Sanders 0:00
I’ve heard so many no’s. So many no’s, because it’s not the normal business model and evidence of best practice is a really big thing when it comes to funding and stuff. And for me, it’s like, well I’m working with elders and I have over 60,000 years of cultural knowledge, we know what’s best practice.

Vicki Saunders 0:22
Welcome to SheEO.World podcast, where you’ll meet women and non-binary folks who are transforming the world to be more equitable and sustainable. I’m your host, Vicki Saunders.

Vicki Saunders 0:40
Welcome, Leanne, it’s so good to see you.

Leanne Sanders 0:42
Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Vicki Saunders 0:44
Thrilled to have you here. So yeah, tell me all the things. First of all, who are you and what are you working on?

Leanne Sanders 0:50
Yeah, so I’m Leanne Sanders. I’m a really proud Kamilaroi, Mutti Mutti, Tati Tati and Latjilatji woman, I’ve been born and raised on Wiradjuri country and also have Wiradjuri ancestors. And I’m working on an app to transform our younger generation to have a dream, and to be future leaders of this nation.

Vicki Saunders 1:13
Beautiful. So can you tell us a little bit about why and what brought you to doing this work?

Leanne Sanders 1:20
Yeah, as a, I always knew I wanted to help people. And I had a child when I was 19. And I wanted to change his future. And I went to university and did a Bachelor of mental health, and specialized in Aboriginal mental health. And then when I worked as a clinician over the years, I just seen that I wasn’t really able to help people, the way that they really needed to be supported, that’s always working in crisis. And then, in 2013, I lost my young cousin to mental health. And he was in — he’s in a remote community, and just the pain that it had on my family. And when I hear about other families that reach out to me across Australia, when they lose a loved one to mental health, I felt like I needed to change, to transform the way we support people and engage people and not one service can do it alone. And I think that we have some incredible cultural practices around how we connect and care for everything as one, that we could transform that into a digital tool, not just to help our first nation needs, but to help everyone.

Vicki Saunders 2:44
Are you willing to share some of those cultural practices that are built into the app?

Leanne Sanders 2:48
Yeah, definitely. When I asked the elders, and this is such a we. We’re a we, I am just, I’m the drive — I might be the driver. But it’s not an alone change. We can’t do it alone. And so when I talk to Uncle James Ingram, he’s our Wiradjuri elder, what do you hope for the future generations, and he says, to go back to the time, where we all looked after each other, we weren’t in solo. And I’ve been through my own battles with grief and loss, and, and connection to country is really powerful. When Dallas passed away, I joined Hands on Weavers, and began weaving with the elders. And when my brain was in a fog, I would just get lost in the weaving. And I think that really helped me overcome that grief, which — it doesn’t ever go away. But it just was something that was a mindful tool. And then I went and did Wiradjuri language with Uncle Stan Grant at Charles Sturt University. And even just having language back and being spoken and speaking that on the country to the trees, to the animals to each other, it is so spiritually healing. So a lot of them practices.

Vicki Saunders 4:13
Amazing. I’m going to take a deep breath because I’m so vibing with this, it’s time to go back to a time where we cared for each other. This is — we have everything that we need to do this. There’s enough for everyone. I just, it very much resonates so thank you so much for sharing what you’ve learned in your culture and to bring this into the world. It’s so needed right now.

Leanne Sanders 4:40
We, like as oldest living culture in the world. We survived for over 60,000 years. And we’ve got some massive shifts with, you know, just all of the unknown and I think one thing that COVID has really taught us is that when people are struggling, we are looking after each other. We are. I know. My, my incredible mentor and Annie Deb. She’s from a remote community. And it was really tough with medical supplies and COVID testing, internet. And she said like, a tough as it was, she could see her community all looking after each other. Like nothing was about me, it was about the we. How do we get through this together?

Vicki Saunders 5:29
It is a big reframing, from the last sort of 400 years of conditioning to think it’s all about self interest, being by yourself, doing things alone. And there’s such a strong narrative about that. And so thank you for being part of this shifting back to the we because it’s absolutely crucial. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re excited about with the app? What’s what’s coming into the market? How are you doing it? Who are you working with?

Leanne Sanders 5:55
I’m really excited. I’ve been, like working with my sister, she’s not, I haven’t seen her for a walk because of COVID. But she has been to, like helping me recently, and getting it tested in her community, which has been really good to see other communities getting really excited about it, we’re getting excited, because we’re going to start putting in some digital content, to be able to share with everyone, some of the practices. Also, we, when someone is going through struggles, and accessing services, they have to retell their story over and over and over. And often what I’ve seen within my family and my work, is that people give up. It is really traumatizing. So we’re going to have a pre-recorded or pre-written story, so they can share with whoever they want to. So that they can ensure that when they go for help, they’re in the right door at the first time. And so that should be ready by Christmas. So I’m really excited about just seeing if we can make that change for people.

Vicki Saunders 7:08
That’s so powerful. We’ve, yes, that’s incredible, that, the constant having to re-storytell. That and is there a mentorship aspect to this, where you have a partner to help you or how does it work?

Leanne Sanders 7:21
Yeah, I suppose, um, my biggest struggle, to be honest, is for the last four years everyone, like a lot of people have said, well, how are you going to make money? How are you going to make money? like there’s not a financial model to this, because it is a free app in the Apple and Google Store. And for me, I just wanted to get it right with community first, I felt like I didn’t want to overwhelm myself. And I just wanted to get it right with community. I wanted to make sure that the app was flowing. And so then I often had a lot of self doubt, like, I don’t think we can, like we’ve been a disability service as well. So we’ve been able to use the app on the ground, to make sure that we’re supporting people with dual diagnosis with mental health and disabilities. And so that’s been a struggle, because that’s the way that business is. And so it’s been so life changing to have the SheEO community that says that, okay, if you don’t have that worked out yet, that’s okay. You’re not a bad business person. You’re just a change maker. And that stuff will come.

Vicki Saunders 8:31
So beautiful. That is so eloquently said, because I feel you right in my chest, as you’re talking about this, because this is the thing with SheEO. And it’s been the same with many of my businesses, that knowing in our first year, it was — yes. I feel you. And I honor you for this because I do really think that money follows vision. And when you’re doing what is right by community, and there’s a need, it will work itself out. And so we’re, I’m incredibly grateful. We’re all grateful that Activators voted for you, and that you’re in the community. And we’re so looking forward to, to supporting you and seeing where this goes. All of us get to help you, which is an amazing part of this community.

Leanne Sanders 9:13
I cried. I’ve heard so many no’s. So many no’s, because it’s not the normal business model and evidence of best practice is a really big thing when it comes to funding and stuff. And for me, it’s like, well I’m working with elders and I have over 60,000 years of cultural knowledge, we know what’s best practice. That’s really big challenge. And then I had some discussions around supporting Aboriginal children in care and using the app and I was asked so how much money do you — like will you charge for this? And I just froze and I went, how do you put a dollar on something that you are so passionate about? And not in it for for money? It’s really challenging.

Vicki Saunders 10:03
It’s — Yeah, I completely hear you. And I think this is the challenge in the world where everything has been monetized.

Leanne Sanders 10:09
Yeah.

Vicki Saunders 10:10
And we have, you know, top down, put value on things, it’s just, anyway, there’s a whole new way to do this, we’re gonna help and support and learn with you, as you figure this out. We have full trust that this is something that will transform all of us. And the sharing of your cultural knowledge is priceless. So let’s just start with that. Anyway, I’m so grateful to be with you in this community, we’re excited to look, to support you. And I wonder if you have an Ask specifically for the community. Is there something that we can help you with as people are listening to this?

Leanne Sanders 10:45
I think my Ask would be, if anyone could help, like, give me some advice around what it is, what is the different business model? That’s not the norm? What is unique? Unique in my thinking?

Vicki Saunders 11:00
Yeah, that’s values aligned right? How do you value Visual Dreaming, sharing all these pieces? Yeah, the healing of each other?

Leanne Sanders 11:07
Yeah. Yeah. It’s unique. Like, I know what my community and other communities say how much they they need this and how much it gives them, gives them hope, for our for our young people and for our culture. But then to turn that into something that’s viable, because we don’t want to be relying on grants and stuff. We want to be viable.

Vicki Saunders 11:33
Right.

Leanne Sanders 11:33
Because we want to buy back land. We know our healing can start, we can start to buy back land.

Vicki Saunders 11:39
Well, thank you so much. Again, it’s been wonderful talking to you today. Thanks for your time, and we’ll see you online.

Leanne Sanders 11:45
Thank you.

Vicki Saunders 11:49
Thank you for listening to the SheEO.World podcast. Like, comment, subscribe, and share this podcast with your friends. We invite you to join a global community of radically generous women and non binary folks at SheEO.World.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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