Talofa, malo le soifua! Welcome to The Seedling, brought to you by The Uproot Project. I’m Lagipoiva, daughter of High Chief Va’asili’ifiti Moelagi Jackson and descendent of Tuisafualemotu, the traditional architect of the island of Savai’i in Samoa. My name, ‘Sky of nine nights’ describes the number of nights Tagaloalagi, the traditional creator needed to rest before creating our home island.
It’s AAPI month and it is only fitting to share that personal story, to once again remind us that behind Samoan, Polynesian, and many Pacific islander names, there is a deep and meaningful story that not only captures history but at times dictates the pathway of that person.
As a climate journalist just starting my journey reporting on the direct impacts on the lives of Pacific islanders at the frontlines of the climate crisis, those nuances matter. The cultural value of land is immeasurable for Pacific people. That’s why I have always approached climate journalism from the lens of how a warming world can mean intangible losses for cultures and communities. These elements cannot be measured in numbers, such as ancestral ties, myths, and legends tied to land, language, and identities as Pacific islanders. I currently report for The Guardian focusing on Pacific island issues. Our most recent work highlighted the impossible choice faced by atoll island residents who face the real threat of losing their entire island nations to sea-level rise.
Since The Uproot Project launched in 2021, I have followed the amazing work of many AAPI environmental journalists like Rachel Ramirez. Ramirez’s recent coverage of California's water crisis and the ongoing drought demonstrates a truly American approach to the climate crisis — as long as it can be fixed temporarily, everything will be fine.
There are so many more environmental stories that can be told from our AAPI communities. For now, however, let’s embrace the work of AAPI journalists who continue to break barriers in a historically underrepresented beat. Fa’afetai.