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Photography by Dudley Edmonson, an African-American writer and photographer specializing primarily in outdoors and nature writing and photography. Check out Dudley's work here.

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.

-Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson, Freelance Reporter

What Are You Planting? 

Name: Amber Chen. Freelance journalist covering all things environmental justice in Atmos, Protocol, Teen Vogue, the Los Angeles Times, among other publications.

What's one of your favorite pieces you’ve written? I did a piece for Protocol on how Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Eastern Travis County was continuing the area’s long history of environmental racism. It’s my favorite piece I’ve written so far because it uncovers a nuance regarding sustainable futures: Tesla is the most prominent EV manufacturer and we certainly need more EVs as we work to draw down global carbon emissions, but it is also polluting communities (especially poor, POC communities) in its manufacturing processes. It’s important that we hold these large corporations accountable for the harm they cause to communities, that they can’t hide under their grand goals if their method of achieving those goals is unjust. I’m also especially proud of this piece because I essentially had less than a week to get it together and was still able to insert perspectives directly from the community and include all the points that I wanted to (shout-out to my great editor!).

What's a piece of advice you wish you could give to your younger self? You’re a lot better at writing than you think you are. Everything will be okay! Keep pitching! And know what a nutgraf is!

What would be the title of your memoir? William Miller in the movie Almost Famous (but environmental justice).

Read their work here!

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