Happy Fall, dear Uprooters! Welcome to the Seedling, where today I am sharing the Uproot gathering in New York.
I am Shivani, a proud fellow Uproot member and an in situ environmental communicator. I am keen to impactfully translate oft-complex climate research and policies from the ivory tower for my aunt and yours.
Nearly 40 of us gathered at Foley Gallery in Chinatown on an uncharacteristically warm late October evening in New York to celebrate the work of fellow Uprooters Yessenia Funes (Atmos), Adam Mahoney (Capital B), Rachel Ramirez (CNN), Lylla Younes (Grist), and Shantal Riley (freelance). We lauded their achievements by engaging with poster exhibits of stories they’d reported on, along with audio snippets of their motivations and varied perspectives. Rachel’s parents were in the house, amongst other friends of Uproot. You can check out the virtual brochure of the exhibit here.
Nikhil Swaminathan, Grist’s CEO, led a panel with Shantal and Rachel in which they shared their inspirational journeys into environmental journalism and insights on the stories they’d worked on. Both panelists come from communities that have faced, and continue to face, disproportionate harm from weather events intensified by climate change and from environmental pollution. This inculcated in them empathy and, as Rachel put it, cultural competence to cover the happenings in a more engaged manner.
Indeed, belonging to a minority community renders depth and breadth of experiences that offer critical advantages. A community member understands the language and has humility that comes with having faced the same hardships. This stance is critical in environmental reporting, as the crisis is essentially a problem of inequity and concentrated power.
Multi-perspective storytelling from community members — whether as citizen journalists, communicators, oral storytellers, take your pick — enriches the truth. In doing the heavy work, do take time for yourself!
It was a delight to be a part of the evening, full of good cheer, great food, and tipples. A word cloud of the conversations would likely generate “community”, “trust”, “support”, “solutions”, “perspective” in bold. Warm community gatherings like these make me hopeful in the power of storytelling, and I know we will find a guided way out of the murky oily waters to rebuild a blue and green world.
Viva la tierra,
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