Today’s original art for The Phoenix is by Laila Arêde.
We are in a climate emergency. And you were born at just the right moment to help change everything.
Subscribe to The Phoenix to support independent climate journalism at a critical moment in history.
We’ve made it to the six week mark here at The Phoenix! Thank you to all of you for joining me on this journey.
I’ll be honest with you, writing about climate change never gets easier for me. As a scientist-turned-journalist, it’s something that feels a little like gaslighting. I have learned enough about the science to feel confident that our current course is leading us toward planetary catastrophe in our lifetimes – the disasters all around us show that’s already happening. I have learned enough about justice, from listening to folks with marginalized identities who continue to be systematically erased and silenced, that getting to a new course that’s life-giving for everyone is going to mean reckoning with a lot of uncomfortable truths.
Climate trauma is real. We all feel it in some way.
With pandemic lockdowns starting up again and the climate emergency at a crossroads, we are going to need to strengthen and reinforce our relationships, share resources with each other, and encourage each other that real change is possible.
After these first six weeks at The Phoenix, I’m realizing yet again that doing this work is so much better when you do it with a community.
So today, we’re launching Tuesday threads.
Every week, we’ll come together on Tuesdays for a community discussion on climate, on justice, on the world, on anything we think is worth talking about. I’ll give the prompt, and I’ll devote a set block of time – 5-7pm ET every Tuesday - when I’ll join the conversation live. If there’s enough interest, we could even do this as a live video stream. For now though, I want to focus on building up the comments and threads here on Substack.
This is a chance to ask for or offer mutual aid. This is a chance to organize. This is a chance to show each other what a better world looks like.
Today’s topic: The Phoenix
When I set out to create The Phoenix, I summed up my goal in a single sentence: “What we need isn’t more stories about apocalypse; what we need is justice.”
Since then, there’s been a rash of extreme weather worldwide, the most potentially consequential election of our lifetimes, and the continual refusal of our government to take basic precautions to protect public health in a pandemic: plenty of fodder for apocalyptic narratives, in other words.
Over the first 16 posts, 7 of them have been focused on specific weather events: Hurricanes Delta, Zeta, Eta, and Iota, an Arctic Ocean that’s refusing to freeze, and a three-part series on the wildfires in Colorado.
I don’t want to make The Phoenix a disaster blog, I’ve just felt unable to stop covering what I see is erasure of marginalized people in their time of greatest need. Even in these disaster-heavy stories, I aim to make the bulk of the story focused on interviews and context from the people themselves, rather than just treating the Arctic or hurricanes as events that don't impact people. I include links to donate and reviews of locally-led organizations focused on transformational change, not just top-down “disaster relief” agencies that can perpetuate colonialism. To me, that feels very different than traditional weather and climate reporting. But I could be wrong. I’ve heard from a few people that they tune out headlines like “Humanitarian Emergency in Central America” to preserve their mental health. And I can’t judge anyone for that, it’s a lot to bear.
I’d like to always make sure The Phoenix stays true to the mission of focusing on justice, and I need help.
I received this (long!) message today from a subscriber who has a few ideas about how to steer The Phoenix back towards revolutionary change:
First, I’m very grateful to this person for this intervention and helping shape this community to be one focused on truly transformational change.
How about you? What do you think about the first six weeks of the Phoenix? What would you like to see more of? What am I focusing on too much? What does transformative change look like to you, when it comes to journalism and storytelling about this critical moment in history?
So here’s your assignment:
For our first Tuesday Thread: Please write a short comment, include a little bit about yourself, why you signed up for The Phoenix, and your thoughts on what we could (and should!) be building here together.
I’ll be joining the conversation throughout the day today, but I’ll be online from 5-7pm ET this evening to chat live and help map out the next step for The Phoenix with you all, here in the comments on this post. Join me if you can, I’d love to hear from you.