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ICYMI: Last week, The Uproot Project hosted a panel discussion about pivoting from writing articles to writing books. (You can watch a recording here!) Although we are a network of journalists, books also play an important role in telling climate stories. This week's issue of the Seedling is continuation of this theme, featuring CliFi author Aya de León.
Artwork by Grace Abe

Hello Uprooters! Welcome to The Seedling, brought to you by The Uproot Project.

I’m Aya de León, a climate novelist and activist in the California Bay Area and I’m organizing fiction writers to disrupt the current climate fiction narrative. As you all probably know, what we call “climate fiction” or CliFi is mostly science fiction and fantasy dystopias, set in the future. What most of these stories share in common is that their dystopian societies presuppose that we fail to address the climate emergency in the here and now. It’s a literature of failure, —of “no, we can’t.” It reinforces our collective hopelessness that the forces we are currently up against will defeat us, so why bother to fight? 

We need new stories. Stories of collective action for winning in the here and now. I started by writing contemporary climate fiction about people of color who get politicized by the climate crisis. Since 2019, I’ve published five books of climate fiction. My books have increasingly bold endings: going from individual political awakening to passing sweeping climate legislation or implementing climate reparations. But one author is not enough. So I founded Fighting Chance Books, a new climate justice fiction imprint at She Writes Press. Fighting Chance will publish novels for adults by writers of all genders that tell stories of people taking collective action in the here and now to solve the climate crisis. As an author, I’m at work on THE LAST CONCERT ON EARTH, about climate and reproductive justice, which Fighting Chance will publish in Summer/Fall ’23. This will be the first of five titles for Fighting Chance's inaugural year, and we hope to expand moving forward. I am currently acquiring titles for our 2023/24/25 lists and am eager to take pitches from both agented and unagented authors. Fighting Chance is open to all popular genres: crime fiction, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, women’s fiction, and beyond. Fighting Chance will have a zero-carbon footprint model with only ebooks and audiobooks. Our compensation model is accordingly modest, but our turnaround will be faster than the rest of the industry. It is, after all, a climate emergency. We need these stories now.

In many ways, this idea blossomed at an online conference entitled Black Literature vs. the Climate Emergency which I organized (available on YouTube). In the fiction session, I had a conversation with Tory Stephens of Grist/Fix and Maya Lily of The Years Project. I had been chewing on this idea, but it was only in dreaming in community that it could really come alive.

Until January 2023, Fighting Chance will only take solicited pitches and the Uproot community is on my list of authors I want to hear from now! Do you have an idea for a climate justice novel? Have you always wanted to venture into climate fiction? Please contact me via email at and put UPROOT in the subject line. This email and our landing page will go live on July 21st. I look forward to hearing from you!

Aya de León

Author of Queen of Urban Prophecy, A Spy In The Struggle,
The Mystery Woman in Room Three, 
and more

Director of Poetry for the People at University of California Berkeley

What Are You Planting? 

This section of The Seedling is dedicated to featuring one of the many incredible members of The Uproot Project.

Name: Sarah Belle Lin, Newsletter Fellow Insider & Freelance Journalist for the Bronx Times

How long have you been a journalist/reporter? About 5 years

What is your beat/focus? Newsletters & Local/General Assignment

How did you get started in journalism? Documenting social movements pre-undergrad, and then joining my college newspaper and a college magazine

What’s your favorite piece you’ve written? 1. Who Keeps Chinatown Safe? This story looks beyond the sensational headlines and centers a community impacted by a sharp rise in violence and hate. 
2) Did OPD violate its own policies against protesters? We investigated. This investigation won an SPJ award for investigative reporting for interrogating police claims made about a George Floyd protest by using public records, documents, visual evidence, on-the-ground reporting. 
3) Santa Cruz Takes on Climate Change My first feature that I wrote as an undergrad. It was the climate justice story that started it all for me. I linked up with Spanish translators/interpreters for a feature story about a Latinx neighborhood disproportionately impacted by climate change and how a city and county planned on addressing these impacts through a lawsuit and its climate adaptation plan. Since then, the city has expanded its plan to include Spanish educational materials and more information specifically for the Beach Flats neighborhood I wrote about.

How did you become an Uproot member? I saw the Twitter announcement, and saw that its mission aligned with my values for community-building and empowerment of EJOCs. I’ve long followed Grist, and admired its environmental journalism.

What’s a piece of advice you wish you could give to your younger self? Your wild curiosity will serve its purpose.

What are you reading? The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin and a Keats book I picked up at an antiquarian bookseller in London. 

What are you listening to? Jazz, every day. Mostly artists coming from the UK.

Who is your inspiration? Martha Mendoza, from The Associated Press. She uncovered an illegal trafficking trade within the Thai seafood industry. She worked at the same college newspaper as me, and I’ve seen her talk at milestone journalism stages: in college, post-undergrad during summer journalism course, and now at IRE22 as I’m going on my fifth year as a journalist! 

What are your favorite news sources? The Associated Press and Insider.

What’s your favorite flower? The sunflower (my favorite tree is the aspen)

Favorite place you’ve traveled to? I’m lucky to currently live there: New York City

Where can we find you on social media? Twitter: @SarahBelleLin / Instagram: @sbellelin

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Uproot Updates
  • The Uproot Project is excited to be partnering with The Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources (IJNR) to host a workshop exclusive to Uproot members in Toledo, Ohio from August 21-23, 2022. Applications are now open, and will close on Friday, July 22. Apply HERE. More details can be found on the IJNR website: Reporting on Water: A Training Workshop for Early Career Journalists
  • Want to be featured in our member spotlight? Fill out this form
  • The Seedling is looking for writers! That’s right, you could get paid to write for this very newsletter. If you're interested in writing for The Seedling, please email with a short writing sample and any topics you'd want to write about. *At this time, we are only able to pay writers who are based in the US and authorized to work here. If you have any questions, please let us know


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  • Join us on Slack to stay up to date with events, resources, and connect with fellow members.
  • Last month, we hosted an in-person member event in Seattle. Stay tuned for details on our next member event in NYC this Fall! 
  • Have you had the chance to check out our new database? It includes a roster of editors, mentors, subject matter experts, sources, and other journalists of color. Please share widely!
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